Climate change threatens a quarter of world heritage sites

World Climate ConferenceDelegates and visitors walk inside the German pavilion at the World Climate Conference in Bonn, Germany, 2017. (Oliver Berg/dpa via AP)

62 of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites are threatened by climate change. The number has almost doubled since 2014, shows a new report.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the number of endangered sites on the UNESCO World Heritage Site has increased from 35 in 2014 to 62 in 2017. The report has been presented at the COP23 climate conference, currently taking place in Bonn.

The endangered areas include coral reefs, glaciers and wetlands.

“The way this trend has increased at high speed over the last three years has been shocking to us, and the report warns that the number is likely to increase,” says IUCN Director Inger Andersen.

According to the report, 29 percent of the places on the list are significantly threatened. 7 percent of the sites, including Everglades National Park in the United States and Lake Turkana in Kenya, have critical prospects. Three listed coral reefs have been affected by what the report describes as “destructive coral bleaching”.

Coral bleaching is a harmful state where the corals reject the algae that live in it, thus losing colour. The condition often causes the corals to die.

The World Heritage List is earmarked to be protected for future generations.

Negotiators are currently gathered in Germany to discuss measures to implement the Paris Agreement, which was adopted by more than 180 countries in 2015.

The purpose of the Paris agreement is to keep global warming below 2 degrees and try to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

In addition, the countries will strengthen their ability to adapt to climate change. By 2020, rich countries will have to spend at least $ 100 billion annually on climate change measures in poorer countries.


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