Call for CO2 action

The latest call for tough action to reduce greenhouse gases comes from the UK government's Chief Scientific Adviser. In a hard hitting paper published at the end of September, Sir Robert May warns of dire consequences if worldwide carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise. His warnings are based on work of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cataloguing the likely effects on Britain's climate, ecosystems and farming, he described the possible reduction of the Gulf Stream -- which keeps the British Isles temperate -- as an "awesome prospect" . Steps already taken to reduce Britain's CO2 emissions have entailed relatively little cost in national lifestyle, he points out. "The next steps will be a lot harder." But most of the required changes will be impossible unless the public is persuaded of the need for them, he says. He calls upon ministers to lead the British people to take early action. But no matter how well the UK does, its global effects will be marginal compared with what happens over the coming decades in developing countries, he warns. "Developed countries, with the highest level of emissions, need to take the lead. We need to promote among developed countries an understanding that serious and urgent action to limit emissions is needed and to press for a solid result in Kyoto."