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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
Top scientist makes climate plea
Floating ice (BBC)
Public funding for energy research has reduced around the world
World leaders have been urged to put more money into developing new energy technologies to tackle global warming.

Royal Society president Martin Rees wants a publicly funded international research programme, he says in the US journal Science.

Lord Rees says a pledge to increase governments' investments in energy technologies should have been made at the recent G8 summit in Russia.

He describes a "worrisome lack of determination" among world leaders.

'Urgent challenge'

Lord Rees said: "Energy security was a key issue at the St Petersburg summit of G8 leaders last month.

"Their joint communique included many important commitments, but it omitted one crucial pledge - a significant increase in their governments' investments in R&D (research and development) for energy technologies."

None of the kinds of energy that we can produce now routinely are going to really be sustainable in the long run at the scale we need
Lord Rees

He said an "urgent challenge" was to meet global demand for energy, while reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change.

To do this, "more needs to be done to develop new energy technologies that are currently far from market", he said.

Lord Rees suggests money for research could be raised through methods such as carbon taxes, levied initially on the countries with the largest greenhouse emissions.

Energy demand

Public funding for energy research across the world has halved in real terms since 1980, and in the UK it is now one-tenth of what it used to be.

Lord Rees says the UK and US have taken some steps towards tackling the problem but there is an urgent need to increase efforts in research and development.

He told BBC News: "If we look at what is happening worldwide, there is a greater and greater demand for energy, especially in the developing world, India and China in particular, and at the same time carbon dioxide is rising very fast and it's clear that unless we can control the carbon dioxide then we will run into a dangerous level of potential climate change 50 years from now.

"And that's why there's urgency, because if you want to meet the expectations of the developing world, we need new kinds of energy.

"None of the kinds of energy that we can produce now routinely are going to really be sustainable in the long run at the scale we need."

The International Energy Agency predicts that by 2030 global energy demand will increase by 50%.

Hear Lord Rees making his case on the Today programme


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