Bush's slapdown for Blair on climate change

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The Independent Online

President Bush has reprimanded Tony Blair for sounding the alarm over global warming and pressing for international action to combat it, senior Washington sources say.

President Bush has reprimanded Tony Blair for sounding the alarm over global warming and pressing for international action to combat it, senior Washington sources say.

They report that the White House has objected to the Prime Minister placing the issue at the top of the agenda when he heads the G8 group of the world's most powerful nations next year, and to the strong tone of his recent speeches warning of climate change.

Mr Blair is widely seen as the leader best placed to bring the President into serious international negotiation on how to tackle the problem, which he has described as "very, very critical indeed".

This follows a U-turn by Greenpeace, which last week withdrew its longstanding support for the Prime Minister's climate policies saying that he "can no longer be given the benefit of the doubt" and "cannot be trusted to resist industry lobbying."

The Government, however, says it is both successfully mobilising international support for Mr Blair's initiatives and making progress on reaching consensus with the United States on "a way forward".

Mr Blair has repeatedly described global warming as "the single biggest long-term issue" facing the world. In a major speech this autumn he added that it was " a challenge so far-reaching in its impact and irreversible in its destructive power, that it alters radically human existence."

The White House said last week that "President Bush strongly opposes any treaty or policy that would cause the loss of a single American job".

This contrasts with Mr Blair's insistence in recent speeches that "it is quite false to suggest there is a trade-off between economic growth and environmental protection", and that tackling climate change "can unleash a new and benign commercial force ... providing jobs, technology spin-offs and new business opportunities as well as protecting the world we live in".

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