Blair relaunches climate strategy

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The Independent Online

Tony Blair will this week urge the British public to take green issues seriously in an attempt to relaunch the Government's ailing strategies on tackling climate change.

Tony Blair will this week urge the British public to take green issues seriously in an attempt to relaunch the Government's ailing strategies on tackling climate change.

The Prime Minister is hosting a "power breakfast" of business leaders, politicians and environmentalists at Downing Street on Wednesday, where he will unveil a new five-year strategy to combat global warming.

The event has been given added political urgency by Mr Blair's recent admissions that the UK is set to miss the Government's ambitious target to cut greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent by 2010.

In his joint announcements with Margaret Beckett, the Secretary of State for the Environment, he will concede that his government's efforts need to be stepped up, but he will claim that business leaders, environmentalists and the public have to co-operate on combating climate change.

Mr Blair will call for Britain to "pull together as a country", said one Whitehall source, and will renew his promise to put combating climate change at the centre of Britain's presidency of the European Union and G8 group of industrialised nations next year.

It is understood that Mr Blair's speech will also include a call for the public to be far more environmentally aware when they buy cars, homes and household goods - a call which led to claims that ministers are "passing the buck".

The Government is anxious to deflect criticism of its record, which intensified last week after the Chancellor failed to significantly increase Treasury spending on green issues.

Julie Foley, analyst with the pro-Labour Institute of Public Policy Research, said: "The consumer point is really welcome, but the caveat is that this also requires significant action from Government. It means significant tax breaks - and that costs money."

Tony Juniper, the director of Friends of the Earth, said that "time was running out" for Mr Blair, who needed to take radical action if he wanted to show that the UK was a world leader before next year's G8 presidency.

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