From Olivia Kelly - Irish Times Tuesday September 15th

Giant's Causeway not immune from impact of global threat


The protection of built and natural heritage must be central to the UN conference on climate change which will take place in Copenhagen in December, Simon Molesworth, chairman of the International National Trusts Organisation, told the conference in Dublin yesterday.

“Iconic buildings and landscapes all around the world are at risk because of climate change. Time is against us, and it is critical that world leaders listen and put solid measures in place at Copenhagen to protect our heritage so that it can be enjoyed by future generations.” The impact of climate change on landscapes was not theoretical, nor a threat for the distant future, but was happening now, Mr Molesworth said. “There are some obvious examples to demonstrate the impact of climate change: the disappearing Maldives Islands are one.”

Ireland was not immune from this global threat, he said.

“While things may look near-perfect here in Ireland, a report published by the UK National Trust in 2008 predicted that the sea level around Northern Ireland will rise by up to one metre by the end of the century, threatening the Giant’s Causeway.”

Global leadership was needed to protect heritage landscapes, which meant it was essential that the issue was tackled in Copenhagen, he said.

The conference intends to produce a declaration on climate change which will be sent forward for consideration in Copenhagen. The “Dublin Declaration” will set out ways in which national governments from around the globe can promote heritage and landscape protection.

Former president Mary Robinson told the conference that there was a need for “climate justice”. Rich countries needed to accept that their actions had contributed the most to the climate change which has had the most severe impact on poorer countries.

“We must hold governments accountable for putting into practice well-established principles, such as the requirement that ‘polluters pay’ for the environmental damage they cause,” she said.

The conference which began yesterday and runs until Thursday is being attended by more than 200 representatives from heritage trusts from around the globe, and is being hosted by An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.