World Heritage sites threatened by Bush's ignorance on Climate Change
Paris, 17 March 2006 - "Ignore the Bush Administration's apparent reckless intent to ravage the planet," says Greenpeace today as experts attend an urgently convened meeting on World Heritage and climate change. Greenpeace called on the experts to ignore a challenge from the Administration and continue with its deliberations and subsequent recommendations on protecting listed sites from the dangers posed by climate change.
Today's meeting in Paris follows the decision to hold an investigation, which was agreed at a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) last year after petitioning by campaigners and lawyers. However a recent submission from the United States suggests that it is an inappropriate discussion for World Heritage and warns that if the Committee addresses the issue of global climate change it risks 'losing the unified spirit and camaraderie that has become synonymous with World Heritage.1'
"The United States has a history of trying to stifle the climate change debate in any and all fora and that's exactly what it is trying to do here," said Laetitia de Marez, Greenpeace France Climate & Energy Campaigner. "It also once again deploys the defunct argument that there is not enough evidence to prove that climate change is caused by humans, therefore there is no proof that humans can do anything about it under the World Heritage Convention."
Greenpeace is petitioning the World Heritage Committee, along with other organizations, to list both the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the United States and Canada as they are in danger due to the damage caused by climate change2.
"There is no doubt that these sites and many others are being damaged by climate change to the extent that they may eventually lose the characteristics that made them Heritage sites in the first place," said De Marez. "In the Glacier National Park, for instance, only 27 glaciers remain out of 150 and those are rapidly melting".
"It is completely appropriate for World Heritage to discuss this issue and we hope that the meeting will recommend that State Parties should take responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of its strategy for protecting and preserving heritage sites around the world," concluded De Marez.
The World Heritage Committee will discuss the report by the expert working group in July, 2006.
Notes to editor:
1. Position of the United States of America on Climate Change with Respect to the World Heritage Convention and World Heritage Sites.
2. Petitioners are particularly concerned about the impacts of climate change on five UNESCO World Heritage sites. These are
* The Everest National Park (Sagarmatha National Park)
* Coral reefs in Belize
* Glaciers in Peru
* The Great Barrier Reef in Australia
* Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in the United States and Canada