3rd Year Week 5 MT05

Topic: Global Warming

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Blair encourages post-Kyoto action on global warming

Thursday, Nov 03, 2005,Page 7

British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched a new round of international talks on climate change, encouraging G8 nations and other major polluters such as China and India to use energy that is cleaner.

He said that when the landmark Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, the international community would need a more sensitive framework for tackling global warming. Setting targets, he added, made countries worry about their economies.

"People fear some external force is going to impose some internal target on you, which is going to restrict your economic growth," Blair told environment and energy ministers from 19 countries on Tuesday.

"I think in the world after 2012 we need to find a better, more sensitive set of mechanisms to deal with this problem."

Blair has made tackling global warming a priority for Britain's presidency of the G8 industrialized nations. But has met strong resistance from the US.

US President George W. Bush's administration has refused to sign the 1997 Kyoto accord, saying the caps on greenhouse gas emissions it demands would damage the US economy. Bush also objects to large developing nations, such as China and India, being exempt from the treaty.

Blair has acknowledged he will not overcome such opposition. Seeking to draw the US back into the debate, he has instead focused on the need for green technology. Britain is also trying to involve emerging economies that are set to become the world's biggest polluters in the future.

Britain has not abandoned targets. Britain's Secretary for the Environment, Margaret Beckett, stressed on Tuesday that "targets, or goals or objectives, set by country or sector or internationally, have a vital role to play" in driving forward the shift to a low-carbon economy.

Nevertheless, environmentalists fear the focus may undermine the Kyoto process. Catherine Pearce of the pressure group Friends of the Earth said the London talks must be a "stepping stone" to UN negotiations next month in Montreal, Canada, on cutting pollution beyond 2012 and "work toward real targets with proper funding."

"Warm words and woolly commitments are not enough," she said. "Climate change is threatening the lives of millions."