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Natural heritage sites face climate change risk

Six World Heritage sites, including Mt Everest and Great Barrier Reef, are at risk from the impact of climate change, say environmental groups.

world Updated: Jun 26, 2007 10:25 IST

Six World Heritage sites, including Mount Everest, could be at risk from the impact of climate change, feel environement protection experts and groups.

Urging the United Nations to act quickly on the matter, groups like Greenpeace and the Climate Justice Programme have petitioned the global body to list the locations as being "in danger".

Nations that have signed the UN World Heritage Convention have a legal duty to cut emissions, the campaigners were quoted by the BBC, as saying.

To date, 184 nations are signatories of the convention, which was formed in 1972.

The convention's 21-nation governing committee is currently meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, to review the need for giving more teeth to the global agreement to ensure the long-term protection of important cultural and natural sites.

"The committee will discuss a draft policy document on climate change. We are asking the Committee to recognise the need for substantial emission cuts," explained Peter Roderick, co-ordinator of the Climate Justice Programme.

The sites the groups want added to the "in danger" list are:

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Sagarmatha National Park (which includes Mount Everest), Nepal
Belize Barrier Reef, Belize
Huascaran National Park, Peru
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, US/Canada border
Blue Mountains, Australia

The petitions, which began in 2004, have attracted a number of high-profile signatories, including Everest climber Sir Edmund Hillary and BBC film-maker/naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

At last year's meeting, the World Heritage Committee rejected a motion calling for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite the set back, the campaigners want the governing committee to reconsider its position.

The World Heritage Committee's annual meeting runs until July 2.