Blair pushes US on climate change
LONDON: British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the United States and other rich nations on Monday to do more to tackle global poverty and environmental damage or risk a permanent split with the developing world.
In a speech to highlight new green energy pledges by his government, Blair said a stronger commitment by rich nations on climate change could help convince poorer countries of its desire to act justly over crises like Iraq, the broader Middle East peace process and the threat posed by terror organizations.
“The polarity is there and it is dangerous,” Blair told a sustainable development conference in London. “It divides sometimes along left/right lines. It divides along North/South lines. It divides the U.S. and its allies from the rest.”
London and Washington have threatened to wage war on Iraq within weeks unless it gets rid of alleged weapons of mass destruction. Much of the rest of the international community is sceptic al or openly hostile to any attack.
But on climate change, Blair parts ways with President George W. Bush, who has refused to sign up to the 1997 Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gases, saying it would be too costly. The United States is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
Blair threw down the gauntlet, declaring Kyoto was not radical enough. “Even the Kyoto targets have proved controversial with some countries, notably America. Many see it as a threat to the pursuit of economic growth... This needn’t be the case.” Blair’s government published legislative plans on Monday committing Britain to green technology and more efficient use of energy to achieve a 60 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2050.
He said new technology meant this target could be met at no great cost, noting that the UK economy had grown by 17 percent since 1997 while emissions had dropped by five percent. But, he said, the world had to act together to make any progress. He and Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson had written a joint letter to fellow European Union leaders urging them all to adopt the 60 percent reduction target. —Reuters