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Cyber voices against climate change

Washington, DC - As the days count down to November's crucial climate summit in The Hague, a coalition of leading environmental organizations today launched the first international web-based initiative to give citizens around the world a voice in demanding a halt to global warming.

The website has been launched by 16 organizations, including World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. The site aims to send 10 million messages from the public to world political leaders demanding that they use the November summit to reduce the pollution that causes global warming.

"It is now 10 years since the international scientific community issued its first warning about the threats the world faces from climate change," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of WWF's Climate Change Campaign. "That's why we're aiming for 10 million messages - one million for each year that governments have to failed to take action. It is scandalous that available solutions to this problem have been so thoroughly neglected."

In 1990, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its first scientific report on rising levels of global warming gases and their implications for the future. Though impacts characteristic of global warming have since become increasingly evident on every continent and in most nations, governments have failed to act to turn down the heat. On the contrary, many of the leading polluters, such as the United States, have allowed their emissions to increase while pressing for effective international measures to be watered down.

"Climate change is increasingly touching all of our lives. Food production, water supply, shelter, public health, disaster relief, and nature protection - all of these will be in the firing line," said Roger Higman, Senior Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. "We urgently need the intervention of top politicians to give this problem the priority it deserves."

At visitors can e-mail President Clinton and other world leaders expressing their concern about global warming. Visitors can also download a petition that can be signed and sent off-line. They can then send a cyber postcard to friends encouraging them to join the campaign. The site is being launched in English today. Versions will follow in French, Spanish and German.

At November's climate summit, officially the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, governments must meet their deadline for finalizing rules for operating the Kyoto climate treaty - the only international agreement for reducing emissions of global warming gases from the industrialized world. Failing to agree in November would make it questionable whether nations would be able to achieve the Kyoto timetable for reducing emissions in the coming decade. This would set the worst possible example for stopping global warming in the 21st century.

"It's time world leaders recognized that the people who voted them in care about a cleaner, safer future for their families," said Gary Cook of the Greenpeace US Climate Campaign. "People want action now to combat global warming. November's climate summit - the first of the 21st century - is the time for politicians to show they listen."

For further information:

Kara Saul Rinaldi
WWF-US Climate Change Campaign
Tel: + 1 202 822-3477
Andrew Kerr
WWF Climate Change Campaign
Tel: +31 6 5161 9462
Roger Higman
Senior Campaigner (Climate and Transport), Friends of the Earth
Tel: +44 20 7566 1661
Gary Cook
Greenpeace US Climate Campaign
Tel: +1 202 319 2419