The UK could run out of web addresses as soon as 2012, warned Google's vice-president.

Vint Cerf, who helped create the web while working as a researcher at Stanford University in the US, said the bulk of the remaining IPv4 web addresses will be allocated next spring, which potentially means they will be all used up by "sometime in 2012."

Vint Cerf: Web addresses will run out by 2012Cerf was speaking at the launch of 6UK, a campaign group to promote the uptake of the new address system, known as IPv6. According to Cerf, IPv6, can host "340 trillion, trillion, trillion" addresses compared to the 4.3 billion hosted by IPv4 .

"So the theory is we won't run out, at least not until after I'm dead," he said.

"You need to be able to talk to everyone in the world [who] is on the internet. If Europe doesn't implement IPv6, it won't be able to talk to the rest of the world that does implement IPv6 – that's stupid, and we don't want people here to be stupid," Cerf told the Guardian.

He also said it would be "particularly embarrassing for the UK" as it played a key role in developing the web.

According to Nigel Titley, chairman of 6UK, none of the government websites are IPv6 enabled yet.