- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007

PARIS — Forty-five nations answered France’s call yesterday for a new environmental body to slow inevitable global warming and protect the planet, perhaps with policing powers to punish violators.

Absent were the world’s heavyweight polluters, the United States, China and India.

French President Jacques Chirac led the charge a day after the release of a disturbingly grim scientific report in Paris that suggested that global warming is “very likely” caused by mankind and that climate change will continue for centuries even if heat-trapping gases are reduced.

It was the strongest language ever used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued its last report in 2001. The document, a collaboration of hundreds of scientists and government officials, was approved by 113 nations, including the United States.

In his call to action at a French-sponsored environment conference yesterday, Mr. Chirac said, “It is our responsibility. The future of humanity demands it.”

Without specifically mentioning the United States — producer of about one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gases — Mr. Chirac expressed frustration that “some large, rich countries still must be convinced.” They are “refusing to accept the consequences of their acts,” he said.

So far, mostly European nations have agreed to pursue plans for the new organization and to hold its first meeting in Morocco this spring.

Former Vice President Al Gore, whose Oscar-nominated documentary on the perils of global warming has garnered worldwide attention, cheered Mr. Chirac’s efforts.

“We are at a tipping point,” Mr. Gore told those attending the conference by videophone. “We must act, and act swiftly.”

Many questions remain about Mr. Chirac’s proposed new environmental body, including whether it would have the power to enforce global climate accords.

Many countries have failed to meet targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions laid out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The United States never has ratified the pact, and on Friday, the Bush administration reiterated its rejection of imposed cuts on greenhouse gases.

Earlier this week, Mr. Chirac warned in a published interview that the United States could face a carbon tax on its exports if it does not sign global climate accords.

The United Nations also is considering a summit of world leaders to tackle global warming.

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