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 UN to investigate climate threat

Friday 15 July 2005

pollutionThe UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) is to set up a dedicated working group to assess the threat posed by climate change to sensitive locations around the world, it has been announced. The expert team will look at the global warming effects on World Heritage Sites and devise strategic response programmes to combat the issue. The first reports from the group will be in 2006.

Environmentalists have welcomed the move, but called for UNESCO to add the Everest National Park (Sagarmatha), and two other sites, to its list of endangered locations.

"If the majestic beauty of Everest is lost, future generations would never forgive UNESCO for its inaction. It is time for the committee to call for immediate action to protect all those World Heritage Sites which are being, and will be, impacted by climate change," said Prakash Sharma, Executive Director of Pro Public (Friends of the Earth Nepal).

"We are delighted that at long last climate change is on the World Heritage Committee agenda, and that this issue will hopefully now be properly addressed,” commented Peter Roderick, Director of the Climate Justice Programme. “Unfortunately the work of heritage bodies is seriously undermined by the failure of the developed world to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. We can devise management plans until we are blue in the face, but the legal obligation to pass World Heritage Sites intact on to future generations will not be met without big cuts in emissions."

Friends of the Earth International's climate campaigner Catherine Pearce added; "Climate change is already happening, and will become an even bigger threat in the coming years. UNESCO must wake up to the danger, and push countries to urgently cut their greenhouse gas emissions in order to protect the best parts of the planet."

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