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'Divided' Countries Could Leave Climate Deal In 'Tatters'

The UNFCCC, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Nov 20, 2006
Divisions over priorities among countries at the UN climate change conference in Nairobi last week may leave the global system "in tatters" if agreement in principle is not reached by the end of 2007, Britain's Environment Secretary said in an interview published on Monday.

Speaking to The Independent, David Miliband said that the "gap between the science and the politics remains large, with industrialised and developing countries divided by priorities and divided among themselves."

With the first stage of the current Kyoto agreement due to expire in 2012, Miliband said that if "we have a gap in 2012, we would have a very serious problem. The whole system would be in tatters."

Miliband noted that there had been progress on "important issues", countries had yet to "find ways to cut through short-term self-interest and assert long-term mutual interests."

"We need to raise the political prize. We must be under no illusions. It will take a big acceleration. It will not be easy."

He also appealed to the United States to join the global effort, noting: "It is obvious the problem cannot be solved without the Americans, and they have a huge amount to contribute and gain by coming in."

"I can't think of a better legacy for George Bush than to spend his last two years forging a bi-partisan commitment to put America at the heart of a global deal."

The conference took place days after the release of a British government-commissioned report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern. The report said that inaction on climate change could cost the world's countries up to a fifth of their gross domestic products.

earlier related report
British least willing to accept restrictions to combat climate change: poll
London (AFP) Nov 20 - The British are the least willing among five European countries to accept restrictions on their purchases or behaviour to combat climate change, according to a poll published on Monday in the Financial Times.

The poll also showed that just a third of Britons support building a new generation of nuclear power plants, just days after Prime Minister Tony Blair threw his weight behind such plans.

Some 56 percent of respondents to the survey in Britain said they would strongly or somewhat support restrictions on purchases or behaviour which, while still a clear majority, was the lower than in the other countries surveyed: -- France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Asked whether they were behind a charge on air travel to reduce the environmental damage of planes, 44 percent said they were supportive of it.

The poll of 5,346 people in five European countries was conducted in the days following the release of a government-commissioned report by former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern saying that rich countries may eventually have to give up about two percent of their income to fight climate change.

Only 21 percent of Britons were in favour of paying that amount, while 36 percent said they would pay less than that, with just under a third saying they were not in favour of paying anything. Blair on Thursday backed building a new generation of nuclear power stations here to replace ageing reactors and help provide energy security as North Sea oil and gas production falls.

But the poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, showed that just 34 percent of Britons were in favour, with 33 percent somewhat or strongly opposed, and another third saying they were neutral.

Additionally, the poll also showed that just 15 percent of Britons believe Russia can be expected to be a reliable source of Britain's future oil and gas needs, while 44 percent disagree.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
UN climate change conference in Nairobi
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Dutch Bask In Warmest Autumn In Three Centuries
The Hague (AFP) Nov 19, 2006
The autumn of 2006 has been the warmest in the Netherlands for over 300 years, 12.5 percent hotter than the previous year which was already a record, meteorologists said Sunday. "Beating the record by more than one degree centigrade, that is exceptional," the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute said in a statement.

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