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Saturday, November 8, 1997 Published at 12:11 GMT


It's now or never for global warming compromise

The British Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, is describing negotiations on global warming in Tokyo as the most important facing the world's nations.

Mr Prescott is chairing an emergency two-day summit of industrialised nations on global warming ahead of a UN-sponsored forum on climate change taking place in Kyoto in Japan on December 1.

Scientists have warned that global warming caused by carbon dioxide pollution from fuel burnt in power stations and cars is slowly heating the earth.

They say sea levels are rising and severe storms becoming more frequent, creating potentially insurmountable economic and environmental crises for future generations.

The world's politicians accept the scientists' evidence, but they have have been unable to agree on targets to cut pollution levels.

Many countries, including the USA, want to freeze carbon dioxide emissions at or around 1990 levels, fearing that any reduction would harm industry dependent on cheap fuel and power.

The European Union is proposing a fifteen percent cut but the scientists say even a sixty percent reduction would not slow rising temperatures for at least fifty years.

They have warned that anything less could result in global disaster.

The UN forum in three weeks' has been called in the hope that the world's nations can sign an international treaty limiting carbon dioxide pollution.

The meeting in Tokyo could be the last attempt to find enough common ground to make the treaty feasible.

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