On Thin Ice: The Failure of the United States and the World Heritage Committee to Take Climate Change Mitigation Pursuant to the World Heritage Convention Seriously

39 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2007 Last revised: 23 Jan 2014

Date Written: March 2008

Abstract

Glacier National Park's iconic glaciers are disappearing at a rate that suggests the loss of all the glaciers will occur entirely by 2030. This is undoubtedly one of the many devastating consequences of climate change awaiting the United States. However, despite the dire need to take action to slow and reverse climate change, the United States has abdicated any international binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This Article examines this failure in the context of the melting glaciers in Glacier National Park and the World Heritage Convention, under which Glacier National Park is an international protected area. The World Heritage Convention obliges State Parties to ensure the protection of World Heritage sites like Glacier National Park, meaning, in this case, ensuring that the glaciers do not melt entirely by eliminating dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system via greenhouse gas emissions. Yet the World Heritage Committee, with the United States a key member, has failed to endorse the type of aggressive climate change mitigation policy that is necessary to fully implement this obligation. Moreover, the United States has demonstrated again that it is willing to rely on specious arguments than engage fruitfully with the international community to address climate change.

Keywords: glaciers, climate change, Kyoto Protocol, World Heritage Convention, UNFCCC, mitigation

Suggested Citation

Thorson, Erica J., On Thin Ice: The Failure of the United States and the World Heritage Committee to Take Climate Change Mitigation Pursuant to the World Heritage Convention Seriously (March 2008). Environmental Law, Forthcoming, Lewis & Clark Law School Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1004083 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1004083

Erica J. Thorson (Contact Author)

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

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