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. Blair Wants New Climate Change Deal Before Exit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Tony Blair hold a joint press conference, 13 February 2007 at the Chancellory in Berlin, after bilateral talks focussed on climate change and the Middle East. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Guy Jackson
Berlin (AFP) Feb 13, 2007
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said here on Tuesday he was staking his remaining months in office on reaching a new international agreement on climate change. After talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Blair said he hoped to help thrash out compromises on a new accord to succeed the Kyoto Protocol governing reductions in greenhouse gases which expires in 2012.

"These next few months are absolutely crucial," Blair said.

"I think there is broad agreement in the world today on the threat that climate change poses to our environment and our planet.

"There is also an enormous drive in civic society. People believe passionately about this issue."

Blair said however that it was hard to translate this broad support into an international agreement, because of the complexity of the technical issues involved.

"These technical questions we need to work on, we need to make sure that when we get to the point of political decisions we're not lost in the technical work.

"Unless we get answers to some of these issues, it will be hard to get a political agreement."

Blair, who is due to step down by September, said he would achieve "as much as I can" to reach a deal on a successor agreement to Kyoto.

Merkel said she hoped to strike "a concrete political agreement" on climate change at a summit of the Group of Eight most industrialised nations hosted by Germany in June in its capacity as G8 president.

The leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States will attend the summit.

One of the key issues was helping developing, fuel-hungry nations such as India and China to acquire the technology to control carbon dioxide emissions and use cleaner energies, Blair said.

It was also important to involve the United States, a significant non-Kyoto signatory, in a new agreement, he said.

Merkel has put climate change at the top of Germany's agenda during its time in charge of the EU and G8 in the coming months.

She said she hoped the major industrial nations could work together to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over the "next few decades."

"That is an important mark set by scientists and we should stick to it," Merkel said.

Germany is a strong advocate of developing renewable energy sources and is keen to extend the range of the European carbon trading mechanism and harmonise fuel taxes, which in the EU alone are covered by five different systems.

But German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck admitted that no progress on those issues was made at a meeting of his counterparts from G7 countries at the weekend in Essen, western Germany.

After weeks of disagreement, Germany, Europe's biggest economy, last week accepted an EU-imposed ceiling on carbon dioxide emissions produced by industry of 453 million tonnes per year.

That figure, which was 12 percent lower than the level originally proposed by Berlin, is for the period 2008-2012, until the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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US Offered Lucrative Lure Of Global Carbon Trading
Washington (AFP) Feb 13, 2007
Wall Street could become the world's center for lucrative markets in carbon trading, or be left behind if the US government ignores climate change, a senior British lawmaker said Tuesday. Ahead of a gathering of global lawmakers at the US Senate to debate action on global warming, legislators said the European Union's emissions trading scheme offered a model for the United States, China and India to follow.

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