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Britain is hosting a meeting of the environment ministers of the 17 countries responsible for producing 80 percent of greenhouse gases.  The officials will be discussing issues relating to climate change before a December conference in Copenhagen.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the Copenhagen Climate Conference is crucial to the world's future.

"In every era, there are one or two moments when nations must come together and reach agreements that make history because they change the course of history and Copenhagen must be such time.  There are now fewer than 50 days to set the course for the next few decades," said Mr. Brown.

The prime minister cited observable effects of climate change including floods, heat waves, drought and lower agriculture yields, and urged countries to cooperate to lower carbon emissions.

"Once the damage from unchecked emissions growth is done, no retrospective global agreement in some future period can undo that choice, by then it will be irretrievably too late, so we should never all ourselves to lose sight of the catastrophe we face if present warming trends continue," Mr. Brown said.

He says hundreds of millions of people are affected by climate change.

"Ninety-eight percent of those dying or seriously affected live in the poorest countries, and yet their countries account for only eight percent of global emissions.  This is the great injustice of climate change, those being hit first and hardest by climate change are those who have done least to cause it," Mr. Brown said.

The British Prime Minister says cooperation between nations is crucial.  That this is a profound moment, and there are two paths, business as usual, which he says is not sustainable, or a low-carbon high cooperation future.

"We cannot afford to fail, if we fail now, we will pay a heavy price.  If we act now, if we act together if we  act with vision and resolve success at Copenhagen is still within our reach.  But if we falter the earth will itself be at risk, and for the planet there is no plan B," he said.

Mr. Brown says it is too late to stop climate change, the best hope is to slow it so countries may adapt.