Blair speaks out against US refusal to ratify Kyoto


Tony Blair sought to reassert his independence from the US yesterday by criticising its failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Speaking in Mozambique last night, Mr Blair delivered a hard-hitting environmental speech calling for tougher targets to cut global warming.

"We must all of us ratify the Kyoto Protocol," the Prime Minister said, in a thinly-veiled rebuke to President George Bush, who has refused to sign up to the international agreement on global warming.

Mr Blair said that more radical cuts in greenhouse gases were needed to stem global warming and he urged international leaders to follow Britain's lead and strive for tougher targets.

"On climate change, we need to build on Kyoto but we should recognise one stark fact: even if we could deliver on Kyoto, it will at best mean a reduction of 1 per cent of global warming. But we know ... we need a 60 per cent reduction worldwide. In truth, Kyoto is not radical enough. Yet it is, at present, the most that is politically do-able and even then the largest nation, the United States, stands outside it."

The Prime Minister's speech, which will be followed by an address to world leaders at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg today, is among the most radical statements on the environment he has made.

The Green Party said yesterday that the Government's record on the environment was dismal. But Mr Blair's comments from Maputo, the capital, will be widely interpreted as an attempt to reassert his green credentials.

His speech followed a day of travelling through Mozambique, visiting aid projects backed by British organisations. The Prime Minister attacked the blight of poverty in the developing world and called on wealthy countries such as the US to show "political leadership".

He gave his backing to British companies to help develop new forms of sustainable energy. British firms exporting renewable energy technology, including wind and solar power equipment, would qualify for at least £50m in export credit guarantees to help cushion the risk of dealing with developing countries.

Referring to the problems in Africa of poverty and disease – as well as the threats to the environment – the Prime Minister said: "What is truly shocking is not the scale of the problems. The truly shocking thing is that we know the remedies. Where the wealthy countries have acted, it has made a difference. It is not rocket science, it is a matter of political will and leadership."

The Prime Minister made his call for action on global emissions in the first of two keynote speeches on the environment and sustainable development on the second day of his three-day trip to Africa.

He said: "It would help enormously in securing support for Kyoto – and indeed for the necessary more radical action on climate change – if we had a far clearer and deeper knowledge of how science and technology could help in energy production and use, of how market incentives could play a part in changing behaviour, of how business could not just survive but prosper on the back of good environmental policy."

Mr Blair's official spokesman denied that the phrase "market incentives" meant possible tax increases to punish those using harmful fuels. He said he would return to the issue with specific proposals at a later date. "But just remember: Kyoto is right but it is not enough," he said.

During the day, he had travelled through Mozambique seeing British-supported aid projects designed to boost trade and help cope with the chronic problems of HIV/Aids and malaria. He visited the central port of Beira and the nearby township of Dondo, where he was greeted enthusiastically. At the central hospital in Beira, which serves seven million people, he was told that even 16 of its 220 nurses had died from Aids since the start of the year.

But despite his attempts to focus his visit solely on the environment and aid, questions over any possible British military involvement in a US-led military strike against Iraq dogged the premier. He pointedly said nothing on the issue, and aides said all questions would have to wait until Mr Blair held the third of his televised press conferences on his return to Britain tomorrow.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower