*NEWS*LEGAL CASE AGAINST U.S. ON CLIMATE

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*NEWS*LEGAL CASE AGAINST U.S. ON CLIMATE

 user 2006-02-22 at 9:08:00 am Views: 67
  • #14596

    Legal case against US on climate
    The effects of climate change are well-documented and clearly visible in Glacier National Park
    US conservation groups have begun a new legal case aimed at forcing government action on climate change.
    They
    have filed a petition with the UN arguing that Waterton-Glacier Peace
    Park, a protected area, is being damaged by rising temperatures.
    Similar
    actions have been lodged over sites in the Himalayas and Andes.The
    case, filed on the first anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into
    force, could compel the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    Petitioners
    argue that the US, as a signatory to the UN World Heritage Convention,
    has a legal duty to protect areas with World Heritage status, including
    Waterton-Glacier.
    “The effects of climate change are well-documented
    and clearly visible in Glacier National Park,” said the petition’s lead
    author Erica Thorson from the International Environmental Law Project.
    “Yet
    the US has not taken action to protect the world heritage of the park
    by reducing its greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to its obligations
    under the World Heritage Convention.”
    Straddling the US-Canada
    border where the province of Alberta meets the state of Montana,
    Waterton-Glacier was the first region in the world to be declared an
    International Peace Park.
    Conservation groups argue that climate change threatens to have four major impacts on the park:
       
    * average summer temperatures have increased 1.66C between 1910 and
    1980, and precipitation levels have decreased by as much as 20%
        * the loss of more than 80% of the park’s glaciers is the result of climate change
        * since 1850, the area covered by glaciers in the park has decreased by 73% and continues to decrease
        * loss of the glaciers will reduce stream flow
       
    * climate change threatens mountain and prairie species which live in
    the region, through a reduction in water and other mechanisms
    In
    2004 conservation groups co-ordinated by the legal environmental
    organisation Climate Justice filed similar petitions on behalf of the
    Sagarmatha National Park in the Himalayas, the Belize Barrier Reef, and
    Huascaran National Park in Peru.
    The Sagarmatha petition is
    supported by Everest pioneer Sir Edmund Hillary, who said: “The warming
    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.”
    In July, Unesco,
    the UN cultural and scientific agency which manages the World Heritage
    Convention, announced the establishment of a commission to examine the
    cases.
    It is due to report later this year.
    Since then, other
    legal actions have been initiated against the US over the impact of
    climate change on Inuit peoples living in the Arctic, and on two
    species of coral.