United Nations officials convened a two-day emergency summit in Paris last week to discuss the feasibility of listing five of the international agency’s World Heritage Sites as endangered due to global warming. Environmentalists blame melting glaciers on Mt. Everest and dying coral at the Great Barrier Reef on global warming, and are calling on the UN to institute special protections for such places.
Thirty-four of the UN’s 812 World Heritage Sites are considered endangered due to war, neglect or development. The UN is considering proposals to add five additional sites—Mt. Everest in Nepal, the Peruvian Andes, Waterton International Peace Park in the U.S. and Canada, the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef—to its endangered list due to global warming. Analysts believe that adding sites at risk from global warming would increase pressure on UN member nations to cut emissions of greenhouse gases thought to be causing or at least exacerbating global warming.
For its part, the U.S. delegation to the meeting is holding firm to the Bush administration’s refusal to institute mandatory cuts of greenhouse gas emissions. “There is no compelling argument for the committee to address the issue of global climate change,” American officials wrote in a position paper released at last week’s meeting. “There is not unanimity regarding the impacts, causes, and how or if, man can affect the changes we are observing.”