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World has 7 years for key climate decisions: Blair
Tue Feb 7, 2006 7:48 AM ET
By Katherine Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - The world has seven years to take vital decisions
and implement measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions or it could
be too late, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday.
Blair said the battle against global warming would only be won if the
United States, India and China were part of a framework that included
targets and that succeeded the 1992 Kyoto Protocol climate pact.
"If we don't get the right agreement internationally for the period
after which the Kyoto protocol will expire -- that's in 2012 -- if we
don't do that then I think we are in serious trouble," he told a
Asked if the world had seven years to implement measures on climate
change before the problem reached "tipping point", Blair
The European Union, Japan and much of the rest of the industrialized
world are imposing mandatory cuts on emissions of heat-trapping gases
from burning fossil fuels under Kyoto.
U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, arguing it
would hurt the American economy and that developing countries were
exempted. He favors asking U.S. companies to join a voluntary
emission reduction program.
Blair said targets were key to any successor to Kyoto.
"This can only be done if you have a framework that, in the end, has
targets within it. If you don't get to that point, the danger is you
never have the right incentives for the private sector to invest
heavily in green technology," he said.
Environment ministers in Montreal in December agreed on a road map to
extend Kyoto and to hold talks to include the United States and
developing countries in a future framework.
Blair said there were the "beginnings" of an international consensus
and that Bush's comment in his State of the Union speech last week
that America was "addicted to oil" was a sign of a change of mood but
he urged Bush to move further.
"I think there are real signs of change," he said. "I think if you
could find a way of ensuring the right incentives were given without
America feeling there was some desire to inhibit its economic growth,
then I think we can find a way through."
Blair also said he thought it was unrealistic to hope for an
international agreement on restricting aviation travel to curb
pollution and he dismissed the idea of Britain unilaterally or
bilaterally slapping a tax on commercial flights.
"I can't see myself that you are going to be able, artificially
through mechanisms based on the consumer, to interfere with aviation
travel. I can't see that you would get an international agreement for
that and I'd worry about a special levy in the UK," he said.