UNESCO says Climate Change Threatens the Statue of Liberty

A new report from UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) claims that climate change is “fast becoming one of the most significant risks for world heritage sites worldwide”.

Some of the world’s most famous sites that are being impacted by climate change are highlighted in the latest report by the organizations and the report is titled ‘World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate’.

“Globally, we need to understand, monitor and address climate change threats to world heritage sites better,” Mechtild Rossler, director of UNESCO’s world heritage center, said in a statement.

The Statue of Liberty and Chile’s Easter Island is also included in the list of heritage sites that are at risk.

The Statue of Liberty is actually “at considerable risk from some of the impacts of climate change” even though the Statue of Liberty may appear to be “solid and invulnerable”, the report says.

Eh report said that while 75 percent of Liberty Island was “inundated” with floodwaters, closing the site for nine months, the statue itself was unharmed by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.

Another heritage site that is under threat of damage due to climate change is Easter Island which is located over 3,000 kilometers off Chile’s coast. Also known as Rapa Nui, it is home to iconic carved statues. “Reduced summer rainfall, sea-level rise, coastal inundation and erosion” are the projected impacts, the report says.

“Climate change is affecting world heritage sites across the globe,” Adam Markham, lead author of the report and deputy director of the UCS’ Climate and Energy Program, said in a statement.

“Some Easter Island statues are at risk of being lost to the sea because of coastal erosion,” he added.

Stating that climate change could result in some world heritage sites losing their status, Markham went on to give a stark warning.

COP21 summit in Paris, where global leaders agreed to “pursue efforts” to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and make sure global warming stayed “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, preceded the report on global climate change.

“As the report’s findings underscore, achieving the Paris agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to a level well below 2 degrees Celsius is vitally important to protecting our world heritage for current and future generations,” Rossler said.

(Adapted from CNBC)

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