Brown counters Bush global warming snub with own global study

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The Independent Online

The inquiry, which marks the Chancellor's growing preoccupation with climate change, will examine the President's assertion that tackling it would ruin economies and wipe out jobs.

It comes on the heels of asnub to Britain, and Tony Blair, by Mr Bush, who last week announced a new "partnership" on tackling global warming with Australia, India, China, South Korea and Japan. He kept this initiative secret from Mr Blair, failing even to mention it at the Gleneagles summit three weeks ago.

The initiative, widely seen as an attempt to destabilise negotiations on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, avoids targets for cutting the pollution that causes climate change, preferring vague undertakings about the exchange of cleaner technologies.

Mr Brown, who has become increasingly concerned about the impact that droughts and floods are having on deepening Third World poverty, has asked Sir Nicholas Stern, the Second Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, to head the investigation.

It will examine the economic cost to Britain, particularly in increased flood defences and insurance against extreme weather, as the climate heats up, and attempt to quantify the devastating effects on developing countries, and the world as a whole.

And it will scrutinise the many studies around the world which conclude that tackling global warming costs far less than letting it occur unhindered, and may even create jobs and boost economies.

Unusually, Sir Nicholas will report to both Mr Blair and Mr Brown - the only investigation to do so apart from the Commission on Africa this year.