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.

Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
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: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas