Environmental campaigners call on UNESCO to put Everest
National Park on Danger List because of climate change.
Environmental campaigners and lawyers are today calling on UNESCO to place
Everest National Park (Sagarmatha National Park) on the World Heritage Danger
List because of climate change, so that the legal duty to protect the area is
respected. They warn that unless urgent action is taken, many Himalayan lakes
could burst, threatening the lives of thousands of people and destroying a
unique and irreplaceable environment.
(Friends of the Earth Nepal) and record-breaking Nepalese climbers, will
deliver their petition by hand to the World Heritage Committee in Paris
tomorrow (Thursday 18 Nov) at 9.30am. Petitioners include Sir David
Attenborough, Sir Chris Bonington, Reinhold Messner and Stephen Venables.
of Himalayan glaciers as a result of climate change has swollen the Himalayan
lakes, increasing the risk of catastrophic flooding. There is wide agreement
that many lakes are at risk, but a lack of adequate monitoring means that
there is no realistic assessment of how close they are to bursting. Putting
Everest National Park on the Danger List would mean UNESCO would have to
assess Nepal’s glacial lakes and stabilise those most at risk.
will also submit petitions calling for coral reefs in Belize and glaciers in
Peru to be added to the Danger List as a result of climate change. The climate
change problems faced by Nepal, Belize and Peru are not of their own making,
but are the result of gas emissions from industrialised countries – such as
Heritage Committee should press Governments around the world to reduce their
countries’ greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that the world’s most
spectacular places remain for future generations.
Sharma, Director of Pro Public (Friends of the Earth Nepal) said: ‘Mount
Everest is a powerful symbol of the natural world, not just in Nepal. If this
mountain is threatened by climate change, then we know the situation is deadly
serious. If we fail to act, we are failing future generations and denying them
the chance to enjoy the beauty of mother earth.’
Tsheri Sherpa, said: ‘Everest is the pride of the nation, but more than this,
it is a gift to the world. Lake Tsho-Ipa has formed near the area where I come
from. Local people live in fear that the lake will burst.’
Dorjee Sherpa, the fastest ever climber of Everest, who has climbed the
mountain four times said: ‘Last year when Edmund Hillary
Everest, he told me that so much snow had melted in the fifty years since he
first climbed Everest. In 1953 snow and ice had reached all the way to base
camp, but now it ends five miles above. Everest is losing its natural beauty.
If this continues, then tourists won’t come any more. Our communities rely on
tourism. It’s my livelihood, as a tour guide and climber, and if we lose this,
there will be nothing for our children.’
Roderick, Director of the Climate Justice Programme said: ‘Glaciers and coral
reefs are the canaries in the coal mine. The World Heritage Committee must
urgently investigate these sites and ensure
everything necessary is done to maintain their world heritage status, to keep
people safe and to pass them on intact to future generations. Legal duties
require this action, including the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and
these duties must be respected both within the UNESCO and Kyoto processes.’
Pearce, Friends of the Earth’s International Climate spokesperson said: ‘The
UK is a member of the World Heritage Committee, so we hope that they will
support this petition when they next meet in June 2005. This will be the first
time the World Heritage Committee has been asked to danger list a site due to
climate change. We hope that UNESCO will demand that states take action on
climate change, which is the root cause of these problems.’
Bonington, one of the petitioners, said: ‘Sagarmatha National Park not only
has the highest mountain in the World – it also has some of its finest
mountain scenery. It is also a place where its inhabitants, the Sherpas, live
and work. Both the beauty of this magnificent area and the livelihoods of its
inhabitants are threatened by global warming.’
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