I. Addressing Climate Change Challenges for Cultural Heritage
Climate change has an impact on preservation conditions and causes conflicts with all international treaties stressing the importance of cultural heritage (e.g. UNESCO 1972).[iii] It particularly clashes with the intentions of the Valletta Treaty of 1992, which advocates that as many archaeological sites as possible should be left undisturbed, in situ, where they are.[iv] If climate change makes continued preservation impossible, new strategies in heritage management are necessary. Legislators will need to change the practice of national and federal legislation, or even the laws themselves, to prioritize investigation and documentation of sites at risk.
Past societies and their traditions teach us strategies for how to deal with climate change. A recent example of cultural heritage knowledge as a driver to lessen the impacts of modern climate change is the reopening of medieval irrigation systems in Spain, leading water slowly from the mountaintops through the landscape, ensuring that water is distributed over larger areas than by using modern irrigation systems. Further examples can be found in the SACC statement from 2021,[v] in the latest IPCC reports,[vi] and in publications of the Climate Heritage Network.[vii]
To lessen climate change’s impacts, a transition to sustainable energy production is necessary. In this sense, the European Commission is addressing climate change with its Green Deal.[viii] To provide additional protection to cultural heritage it needs the adaptation and implementation of the Valetta Treaty and the WFD of the year 2000.[ix] Both serve as a reminder that a holistic approach is necessary where cultural heritage is included early in planning processes alongside natural heritage and other values.[x] Further climate action plans should be developed based on the European Standard 17652[xi] and aligned with the 17 UN SDGs.[xii]
From an archaeological, deep history or longue durée perspective, only renewable energies can be considered sustainable. Therefore, nuclear power isn’t a safe energy source. So far in human history, no civilization has lasted more than about 1000 years. Nuclear waste needs to be stored for 100,000 years before it is not dangerous anymore. Thus, the problem would be passed on to the coming 3333 generations in a world with social unrest, ongoing wars, and a changing climate.
The positioning of renewable energy sources like wind turbines and solar panels will have to be rethought. On the one hand, planning processes must be sped up to make the green transition possible; on the other hand, heritage assets above and below ground should not be disregarded or destroyed in this context. Such planning needs a holistic process that includes consideration of both natural and cultural values. We propose to integrate a Climate Action Plan for heritage at risk within the 2030 Climate Target Plan of the EU.[xiii]
Questions to topic I:
What does your party plan to do in the next legislative period regarding climate change’s impacts on cultural heritage, and the green transition and its impacts on heritage site preservation?
- We will work to implement nature-culture solutions and harmonise legislation and practice in this way overall EU countries, implementing Standard EN17652:2022 and working with the UN Sustainability Goals on developing Climate Action Plans.
- We will start an initiative to harmonise legislation and practice in accordance with both the Valletta Treaty and the Water Framework Directive.
- We won’t change anything within actual legislation and practice.
- (Possibility to write a more differentiated answer, max. 500 words)
[iv] European Convention for the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised) Council of Europe, 1992 (also called: Malta Convention/Valletta Treaty): http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/143.htm
[v] Kiel SACC Summit Statement Social Archaeology & Climate Change, 7th September 2021: https://tinyurl.com/saccsummit and almost identical but without examples https://www.e-a-a.org/2021Statement
[ix] Water Framework Directive: https://environment.ec.europa.eu/topics/water/water-framework-directive_en
[x] See Granberg M. et al. 2022, Effects of Climate-Related Adaptation and Mitigation Measures on Nordic Cultural Heritage. Heritage 5, 2210-2240. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage5030116.
[xi] Standard on cultural heritage monitoring 17652 (2022): https://standards.iteh.ai/catalog/standards/cen/6814e478-dbcd-4a7b-a697-4312b260cfc0/en-17652-2022
[xii] UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development (2015): https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals/below-water?gclid=CjwKCAjwzo2mBhAUEiwAf7wjkjCKGXO9mWZm0-3Ri1g216NZwYfdUEgpXTmrnYIldoCOUWB9mQxxIxoCUq0QAvD_BwE