One-hundred fifty years ago, a tourist might have stepped directly onto the Eigergletscher from just below the station buildings, where the train tracks burrow into the Eiger. Today, gray moraine protrudes like a fin and one looks up, not down, the valley to find the curled lip of the glacier.
A sign post tells us that this past decade the Eiger Glacier, retreated more than 300 meters in just five years. The post marks one point along Climate path C (see the Scavenger Hunt post too), one of seven hikes for which climatic information has been recorded and posted in the field and online. The Climate Guide is one way in which the Jungfrau Region (Grindelwald and nearby towns) is meeting its climate pledge, to raise awareness, reduce carbon emissions through voluntary actions, and broadcast such efforts at regional and international scales.
The commitment of these small municipalities reminds me of the resolution passed by my current home town of Boulder, Colorado, in 2002 to meet the greenhouse gas reduction targets outlined in the Kyoto Protocal. In 2006, Boulder then created a Climate Action Plan to achieve these reductions. One big difference, however, is the magnitude of required reductions. The Jungfrau Region aims to reduce CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by 5,000 tons per year. In contrast, to meet the Kyoto targets (7 percent reduction below 1990 emissions levels), Boulder must eliminate more than 400,000 tons of CO2 by 2012 (based on 2007 emissions).That’s more like 80,000 tons per year!
Notably, both locales hope to achieve their targets largely through voluntary measures. Will this work? I can’t say for sure. But I was quite pleased to find that my hotel in Wengen (the Baeren) has been participating in a group of more than 30 hotels from the region to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions since 2001. What’s in it for them, I asked the hotel owner? Only in the last year or so, a small tax break, which hardly offsets the costs of retrofitting the establishment. The real motivation, he claimed, was feeling he was doing the right thing for the community and environment.