Prime Minister an unlikely architect of a 'Kyoto II'
You could hardly call Tony Blair an all-round environmentalist; during his decade in office he has had precious little to say on green issues that exercise many people, such as wildlife conservation, marine pollution, or recycling. But on the biggest issue - climate change - he has said plenty.
No one seems to know when or how Mr Blair realised that global warming was a key matter. It certainly wasn't there in the political baggage of the man who took office in 1997.Indeed, on two key green issues early in his premiership, GM foods and nuclear power, Mr Blair was regarded by environmentalists as The Enemy, as he clearly supported both. But when, on 24 October 2000, Mr Blair told a conference in London "If there is one immediate issue that threatens global disaster, it is the changes in our atmosphere," a new note was sounded on the international political stage.
Since that day, his unwavering focus on climate change has made possible two substantial achievements. The first is highlighting the issue; its move to the top of the international agenda has been largely due to his advocacy.
The second achievement has been to spot, and to start to deal with, the biggest weakness in the world community's efforts to combat global warming, hitherto enshrined in the 1997 Kyoto protocol. This is the absence of the Chinese, soon to be the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, and other developing big emitters such as India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
At the July 2005 meeting of the G8 group of rich nations, the leaders of all these countries sat down - at Mr Blair's invitation - and first began to talk about their CO2 emissions, and how their growth might be controlled.
That meeting was the biggest step forward since Kyoto itself, and the dialogue that has followed it is at the heart of the intense efforts to bring about a "Kyoto 2" later this year, which would ideally involve everyone, including the United States. It cannot be denied that Tony Blair was the architect of it, and if the agreement is eventually pulled off, there is no gainsaying that much of the credit would genuinely be his.
Chinese ivory trade blamed as poachers drive down elephant population by 2% a year
Twitch and shout: Birdwatchers are raving over rare birds in Britain
Investigation launched after manatee drowns at Paris zoo
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
Conjoined gray whale calves discovered in Mexican lagoon could be world's first ever documented find, experts say
- 1 Michael Brown shooting: Police shoot and kill second young black man near Ferguson
- 2 James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – and warns Obama of more to come
- 3 Why are UK rail fares so expensive?
- 4 Here’s the damning letter Robin Williams wrote to his Mrs Doubtfire co-star's principal after they expelled her
- 5 Cilla Black defends Cliff Richard: 'I am positive that the allegations are without foundation'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...
£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...