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. Blair says Kyoto insufficient, urges unity with US on climate change
LONDON (AFP) Oct 30, 2005
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Sunday the Kyoto Protocol is failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions and warned this would only be achieved by forging a new united front with the United States.

China, India and other emerging economies that require large amounts of energy to fuel their rapid growth must also be fully involved in any effective remedy to combat global warming once Kyoto expires in 2012, he said.

The comments -- made ahead of a high-level meeting on climate change in London this week -- appear to bring Blair more in line with US President George W. Bush's opinion of the 1997 United Nations pact.

Kyoto sets legally binding targets for developed countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by 2012.

But Bush has refused to sign up because he believes the treaty's binding targets are too costly for the US economy and unfair because fast-growing developing countries are not part of the targeted emissions cuts.

"We know climate change is a major threat. And worries over security of energy supply and rising oil prices are pushing energy policy to the top of the agenda," Blair wrote in a comment piece published in The Observer newspaper on Sunday.

"But we must understand that neither issue can realistically be dealt with unless the US, the EU, Russia, Japan, China and India work together," he added.

"We have to recognise that while the Kyoto Protocol takes us in the right direction, it is not enough.

"We need to cut greenhouse gas emissions radically but Kyoto doesn't even stabilise them. It won't work as intended, either, unless the US is part of it."

While it was easy to criticise Bush's refusal to join Kyoto, Blair said the US Senate voted overwhelmingly against it under former president Bill Clinton.

And even if Washington was onboard, the treaty would still fail to affect the enormous surge in energy consumption in India and China, he continued.

China was building close to a new power station every week, said Blair.

It needs economic growth to lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty but wants to grow sustainably.

"We have to find a way, as a start, to help them," said the British leader.

The challenge for the world is how to tackle climate change after 2012.

"Will it be another round of division or what we need: a sound, rational, science-based unity, which ensures the right legally-binding framework to incentivise sustainable development," asked Blair.

Sustainable development can only be achieved if countries work together "in a way that allows us to grow, imposes no competitive disadvantage and enables the transfer of the technology needed for sustainable growth to take place."

The devastating impact of climate change is becoming increasingly apparent in the form of hurricanes and floods, whatever the precise scientific link.

Such natural disasters are raising public concern about the issue in the United States, China and beyond.

"That's why Tuesday's meeting matters," said Blair, referring to the informal gathering of energy and environment ministers from the Group of Eight world powers as well as major emerging economies.

"It will focus on what is needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy.

"We need to see how the existing energy technologies we have such as wind, solar and -- yes -- nuclear, together with new technologies such as fuel cells and carbon capture and storage, can generate the low carbon power the world needs."

The G8 members -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- will be joined at the meeting by Australia, Spain and Poland.

Also invited will be the emerging powers of China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Iran and Nigeria. Iran might choose to stay away.

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