An independent report produced by the Institute for Public Policy Research in the UK, the Centre for American Progress in the US and the Australia Institute warns that global warming is approaching the point of no return.

The report, ‘Meeting the Climate Change Challenge’ goes on to call on the Group of 8 leading industrial nations to cut carbon emissions, double research spending on technology and work with India and China to build on the Kyoto Protocol. The task force also urged G-8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and shift agricultural subsidies from food crops to biofuels. It also proposes mandatory cap-and-trade schemes for emissions, such as the EU emissions trading scheme.

According to the 14-member strong Climate Change Task Force, established a year ago from politicians, business leaders and academics, urgent action is needed to stop the global average temperature rising by 2 oC above the level of 1750 – the approximate start of the Industrial Revolution – a point of no return that could be reached within a matter of years and beyond which the risks to human societies and ecosystems grow significantly. The report goes on to say that the planet is already little more than one degree away from this threshold. Currently the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 379 ppm, rising steadily at 2ppm a year. At 400 ppm, the 2 oC rise becomes inevitable, the study says, a point that will be reached within ten years at current trends.

The report also recommends a change in financial and technical assistance for developing countries to adapt to climate change and the creation of a coalition of countries to work on reforms to boost investment in climate-friendly technologies.

“An ecological time bomb is ticking away,” said Stephen Byers, former secretary of energy in the UK who co-chaired the task force with US Senator Olympia Snowe, before adding that the US must be persuaded to act now on climate change.