LAST week's London inter-governmental meeeting on global warming and climate change came and went with hardly any publicity. It was billed as a follow-up to the discussions at the G8 summit at Gleneagles last July which ducked the issue of adherence to the Kyoto Treaty provisions for the reduction of the harmful “greenhouse” gases which lead to global warming. Mr Blair spoke to last week's meeting and confirmed what many have been suspecting for some time, that he has all but abandoned the Kyoto Treaty approach which took a decade to negotiate and to which the European Union is committed. Mr Blair told the meeting: “The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge, but all economies know that the only sensible long term way of developing is to do it on a sustainable basis.” The second part of that statement is difficult to interpret but the first part, that no country is willing to “sacrifice its economy”, comes straight from the speeches of President Bush. It is a false argument because Kyoto does not require any such sacrifice, rather it requires a regulated international effort to reduce levels of emissions overall. Mr Blair's changed stance on global warming may have been made to anticipate criticism that Britain is itself failing to meet the Kyoto emissions reduction target. Lord May, the president of the Royal Society and an expert on global warming, has warned this week that levels of emissions from the UK have actually risen in the past two years and are likely to continue to do so as electricity generators switch to coal in the face of increasing oil and gas costs. Responding directly to Mr Blair, Lord May said: “The blunt truth is that countries are not doing enough to adapt their economies so that they reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.”


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