Tony Blair is seeking to secure George Bush’s backing for a new international treaty that would end America’s isolation on global warming, The Times (UK) reports. Downing Street last night confirmed that Blair had held “lengthy discussions” with Bush about a fresh initiative that would bypass Washington’s steadfast opposition to the Kyoto Protocol.
The deal, described by one source as “Kyoto-lite”, would involve scientific agreement on the scale and nature of the threat, as well as an international program to develop the technology needed for renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions. Stephen Byers, Blair’s former Cabinet minister, pointed out that American political opinion was shifting after the hurricane damage this autumn in Florida and Louisiana which cost billions of dollars in insurance payouts. “Pressure for (Mr Bush) to act is growing domestically?major companies like Boeing and DuPont are expressing concern,” he said. Blair believes that the refusal by the US Administration to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which is due to come into force in February, has undermined the pledges of 39 other countries to reduce their output of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed for global warming.
The Independent (UK) meanwhile writes that in an announcement which does nothing for his credibility as a self-proclaimed world leader on the climate-change issue, Tony Blair disclosed that forthcoming British cuts in emissions of carbon dioxide (C02), the principal greenhouse gas, would fall well short of the amount promised. By 2010, he said, the UK would only achieve only a 14 percent cut in emissions of CO2 from 1990 levels, instead of the planned reduction of 20 percent. Britain is on course to meet its official, legally binding target under the Kyoto protocol, the international climate treaty, of cutting emissions of six greenhouse gases by 12.5 percent by 2010; but it is the more ambitious target that it set itself which now looks doubtful.
In a related piece, The Independent writes that a leading climate scientist, Professor Wallace Broecker of Columbia University, said yesterday that the West’s approach to fighting global warming, enshrined in the Kyoto protocol, will not work. Broecker’s criticism of Kyoto centers on the fact that the treaty only commits the rich industrialized countries of the West to cut carbon emissions. The developing nations, led by China and India, are not yet required to do anything. Their burgeoning economic development is largely being powered by coal and other fossil fuels, and the CO2 emissions that this produces will far outweigh the cuts of all the West’s energy conservation and alternative energy schemes, he said. Extracting CO2 direct from the air, liquefying it and then storing it offered the only realistic hope of preventing climate change that would be catastrophic for the world. It was a practical solution and he believed it could be done without excessive cost.
The Associated Press finally reports that the International Red Cross cited concerns that global warming could trigger bigger floods, storms and even deadly
droughts in decades to come, particularly in developing countries. It said temperature increases forecast by some experts could cause greater weather-related disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Developing nations such as typhoon-prone Vietnam and Nicaragua are on the alert. The International Red Cross warned that if temperatures rise according to projections, Vietnam’s central region could expect 20 percent more rain during the monsoon season, while Nicaragua — where could be threatened by more deadly storms.