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Britain Will Exceed Kyoto But Miss Own Targets On Greenhouse Gases

British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
by Lachlan Carmichael
London (AFP) Mar 29, 2006
The British government unveiled plans Tuesday to fight global warming by cutting greenhouse gases in every sector, expecting to exceed targets set by the Kyoto Protocol but fall short of its own.

The plans met immediate criticism from environmentalists and came before British Prime Minister Tony Blair was set to build on his calls for worldwide action on climate change during his visit to New Zealand Tuesday.

"This (British) programme contains a package of far-reaching measures that will affect all the major sectors and sources of UK emissions," Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said.

The plans call for stricter emission caps on industry, steps to encourage use of biofuels, tighter building regulations, and measures to improve household energy efficiency.

They also call for new stress on encouraging and enabling the general public, businesses and public authorities to help achieve the government's targets.

"But it is not the last word," Beckett said. "There is more that government can and will do to meet the target."

The programme is expected to reduce Britain's emissions of carbon dioxide by 15 percent to 18 percent below 1990 levels by 2010, short of its self-imposed target of 20 percent by 2010.

The government blamed its failure to meet its own target on higher than expected economic growth and high oil prices, which have encouraged the burning of more coal.

However, the government said it will exceed the 12.5 percent target under Kyoto, which sets legally binding targets for developed countries to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming by 2012.

And the government said the new policies in the programme would reduce carbon emissions by some seven to 12 megatons by 2010.

The government said that progress would be assessed more frequently and from next year it would report annually to parliament on progress at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and its future work programme.

In December, Britain's leading progressive think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said Britain and Sweden were the only countries in Europe that look set to meet their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Of the 15 European countries signed up to the international pact, 10 will miss their targets unless they take urgent action, it said.

Nevertheless, environmentalists criticized the government.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Charlie Kronick dismissed the review as "pitiful," saying the prime minister "fiddles while the world burns".

The pressure group called for the government to tackle five "key areas" in its fight against climate change including even tighter building regulations and action to halt airport expansion.

Tony Juniper, director of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, said the governing Labour Party's failure to live up to its election manifestos "will further undermine the prime minister's reputation on this issue."

A Friends of the Earth spokesman said British emissions had risen by three percent since 1997 while latest figures showed that they were currently only around five percent below 1990 levels.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the world's Anglican community, warned that failure to act on global warming would lead to massive suffering and billions of deaths.

Williams told BBC Radio that politicians who do not make the changes necessary to halt climate change will face "a heavy responsibility before God".

Williams criticized US President George Bush's administration which has not signed the Kyoto Protocol but said there were growing signs that the Christian community in the United States was becoming aware of the scale of the problem.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Canadas New Government Starting From Scratch On Kyoto Protocol
Ottawa (AFP) Mar 29, 2006
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday Canada has not progressed at all on its Kyoto Protocol commitments to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and had instead moved "backwards".

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