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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 April, 2004, 01:53 GMT 02:53 UK
UK group to push climate process
By Alex Kirby
BBC News Online environment correspondent

Factory, AP
Scientists say the climate is warming
Environment campaigners have set up an organisation to work for faster progress on tackling global warming.

The Climate Group, to be launched by Tony Blair, aims to build links between governments, business and industry.

The goals of the group, a charity, include "to catalyse a new political momentum on climate change".

The international climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, cannot come into force until Russia - one of the world's main polluters - agrees to ratify it.

The Climate Group says it is non-partisan and independent.

It was founded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and is headed by Dr Steve Howard, formerly of the UK branch of the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

No waiting

It says it exists to "act as a dynamic conduit to bring major reducers of carbon dioxide together and to spread best practice on reductions of greenhouse gas emissions throughout the world's governments (national and federal); cities; global business and other interested groups".

The group says its mission is "to promote the acceleration of greenhouse gas emission reductions globally." It says it has not been set up to fill the vacuum created by the long stalemate over the Kyoto Protocol.

The US has refused to ratify it, and without ratification by Russia, one of the world's other main polluters, the treaty cannot enter into force.

This leaves the international efforts to tackle climate change in limbo. The Climate Group told BBC News Online: "What we're doing parallels Kyoto. We're showing there's a real need to get on with something, and no need to wait for the protocol to be ratified.

"We can start now to show that the world can reduce emissions effectively and economically."

Joining Mr Blair at the launch will be the UK government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King.

UK record

Last month he said climate change "is the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism".

Image: University College London

Other speakers include Sir John Bond, chairman of the HSBC bank, and Karen de Segundo, who heads Shell Renewables.

The group's aim of promoting best practice among those with an interest in saving money by cutting emissions makes good sense.

What will be much harder will be to build up the political momentum which it recognises is essential.

Many European Union governments are struggling to meet their Kyoto commitments. And Mr Blair himself - who will neither take questions nor give interviews at the launch - is unlikely to dwell on the UK's negligible achievements in curbing emissions from transport, especially aviation.

The BBC's Tim Hirsch
"In the last couple of years emissions have been rising"


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