The Minister for the Environment, Dick Roche, has said Ireland is committed to meeting its targets on combating climate change set under the Kyoto Agreement.

Mr Roche said a number of steps were being taken, including what he called 'unprecedented' investment in public transport.

He made his comments after a report on climate change by the former World Bank Chief Economist, Nicholas Stern, was launched today.

The report warns that global warning threatens 40% of the world's species with extinction; 200-million people with flooding and 20% of the world's wealth.

Launching the report, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said it demolished the last remaining argument for inaction and was the most important document ever put before his government.

Mr Blair said the world was heading towards catastrophic tipping points in its climate unless action was taken.

It argues that the world's developed economies, led by the US, will face far higher costs in future if they do not act now.

Mr Stern predicted that if governments do not take action they will face a massive downturn in their economies. However he also said that confronting climate change may not prove as economically painful as some experts predict.

US President George W Bush refused to join the Kyoto protocol on global emissions because he argued it would harm the US economy.

But this document says that, by acting now, industrial nations could save money.