West breaks its promises over global warming

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Almost all Western nations are breaking a treaty promise to control emissions of the main pollution that causes global warming, the Independent on Sunday has established. Britain is one of only a handful of exceptions, but its achievement is largely accidental.

The revelation, based on data collected by international organisations, comes on the eve of a meeting in Geneva to review progress on the treaty, signed in Rio four years ago. It suggests that the world will fail to stop climate change, even though the danger is now beyond doubt.

Last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, representing the top scientists in the field, reported that man-made global warming is probably already taking place. And last week a Government report predicted dramatic changes to Britain's climate.

Under the Convention on Climate Change, the industrialised countries pledged to level off emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming, so that by the year 2000 they were no higher than in 1990.

But evidence collected by the European Union, the World Energy Council, the International Energy Agency, the Association for the Conservation of Energy and the Royal Institute of International Affairs shows that only three countries are likely to achieve this and some of the "greenest", such as Norway, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Finland, are failing.

Only Britain, Germany and Luxembourg among Western countries are expected to meet the target. But Britain is only doing so because of the collapse of the coal industry and the "dash for gas", a less polluting fuel.

Full report: page 12