The world's list of endangered species is growing at an unprecedented rate as governments pay less attention to green issues, a major environmental body said on Tuesday.

The World Conservation Union, which goes under the acronym IUCN, said it would release a "red list" of more than 12,000 threatened species at the World Conservation Congress in Thailand, which starts on 17 November.


"The scale and pace of extinction is higher now than ever before. Research indicates that the rate could even be up to 1000 times higher than we would naturally expect," IUCN Director-General Achim Steiner told a news conference.


With up to 30% of the world's species facing extinction in the next 50 years, the IUCN said it would also release a damning report on what it says is shrinking government investment in conservation.

The IUCN now has 80 countries who are members, Iran being the most recent.

Up to 3500 environmentalists, scientists, businessmen and government officials are expected to attend the week-long conference, which is being billed as the largest conservation meeting ever.


Corporate heavyweights, including oil giants Shell and BP and world number one car maker General Motors, are expected to show up, pushing the environmental performance of big business into the spotlight.


Oil giants Shell and BP are to
attend the 17 November summit

Steiner said he expected sparks to fly at the conference, which comes round every four years, as green groups and business leaders clash over the best ways to manage the environment.


"The vast majority of companies are ignoring the environment and they are far from acknowledging the problems that we are faced with," he said.


"The oil, gas, mining and agricultural sectors in particular need to become far more proactive in reversing environment degradation."

The IUCN says it recognises the important role of business in conservation and is seeking to improve relations and increase support. 

Companies could integrate biodiversity in their day-to-day decisions which could assist in nature conservation, it says.