Warning that unchecked climate change will be disastrous for the world and cause massive economic losses, Britain on Friday called for urgent action to combat global warming.
"The prospect of global warming is frightening but the scientific case that it is taking place is now overwhelming," Prime Minister Tony Blair said as the government released Sir Nicholas Stern's review of the impact of climate change, which warned that rising temperatures could cut economic growth by as much as one-fifth.
Damage caused by floods, rising sea levels and more violent weather could be the equivalent of losing 5 per cent to 20 per cent of total human consumption a year, warned Sir Nicholas, a former World Bank chief economist and senior UK civil servant, in his report.
The world's poorest countries would be hardest hit, even though it is the rich countries that are responsible for 75 per cent of all emissions.
Noting that the report was the "most important" he had received, Blair said, "if the science is right, the consequences for our planet are literally disastrous."
"Unless we act now ... Then the consequences, disastrous as they are, will be irreversible. What is not in doubt is that the scientific evidence of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions is now overwhelming."
He said the "disaster is not set to happen in some science fiction future many years ahead, but in our lifetime.
There is nothing more serious, more urgent, more demanding of leadership - here, of course, but most importantly in the global community."