PARIS - March 17 - "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
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