The US government has lost one of the most important environmental cases to reach the Supreme Court in decades.
The nation’s highest court has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency does have the power to regulate harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Until now the agency had refused to determine carbon dioxide and other emissions from new cars and trucks that contribute to climate change.
But the court said the agency offered no reasoned explanations for its unwilligness to to take action.
It is a massive defeat for the Bush administration which has consistenly argued that any move to cap greenhouse gas emission would be bad for business and US workers.
The ruling coincides with the start of an international meeting in Brussels to discuss global warming.
Belgium’s Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt, opened the conference by warning delegates that only tough financial penalties can make people realise we’re on a highway to extinction.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change aims to produce the second of a UN backed four volume review.