Climate Justice Programme, 07 July 2005 — Sir Edmund Hillary expressed his support today for the danger-listing of Everest because of climate change. The danger-listing is one of three legal petitions, submitted to the World Heritage Committee last November, which countries will be asked to consider at the Committee meeting in Durban, South Africa, from 10-17 July.

Climate Justice Programme, 07 July 2005

Media Advisory

Sir Edmund Hillary supports danger-listing of Everest because
of climate change

At the World Heritage Committee meeting in Durban, South Africa, from 10-17 July, countries will be asked to consider the three legal petitions submitted to the Committee last November in Paris, asking for the Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park in Nepal, the Huascaran National Park in the Peruvian Andes and the Belize Barrier Reef to be placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger because of climate change. Danger-listing is a legal mechanism under the World Heritage Convention affording a higher level of protection for World Heritage Sites.

A particularly concerning aspect of the melting glaciers of the Himalayas and Andes is the swelling of existing, and formation of new, glacial lakes, some of which have already been identified as at risk of bursting, with potentially catastrophic effects on people and property downstream – these are risks that can and must be addressed now by the Committee.

The Everest petition has been given a big boost by Sir Edmund Hillary, who expressed his support in a statement released today in which he states:

“The warming of the environment of the Himalayas has increased noticeably over the last 50 years. This has caused several and severe floods from glacial lakes and much disruption to the environment and local people. I agree the practical idea of remedial action of draining the lakes before they get to a dangerous condition is the only way to stop disasters. Therefore I support the petition to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee lodged by Pro Public and others…”

Read Sir Edmund’s full statement.

Peter Roderick, co-Director of the Climate Justice Programme, said:

“We will be asking the World Heritage Committee to look carefully at the petitions and to persuade them to add the Sites to the danger list. This will ensure that they receive the higher level of protection they urgently need. We also want the Committee to review compliance with the Parties’ duty under the World Heritage Convention to transmit World Heritage Sites to future generations. Plainly, without drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this legal obligation will not be met.

“The eyes of the world will be on the Committee. We expect it to treat the petitions seriously, to danger-list these Sites so that remedial measures can start immediately and to respect the legal duty to transmit World Heritage Sites to future generations.”

More information about the petitions is available on the Climate Justice Programme website.

Read a letter from the Climate Justice Programme to the Committee here.