Beckett exposes G8 rift on global warming

The British Government is deeply disappointed that President George Bush has not made a greater commitment to tackling climate change before the G8 summit, the Environment Secretary has disclosed. In a rare, outspoken critique of the US position on global warming, Margaret Beckett told The Independent of the Government's frustration at the lack of "common ground" with Washington on the need for action on the environment. The US has consistently blocked attempts by Britain to put progress on tackling climate change alongside G8's moves to scrap African debt at the Gleneagles meeting of the leading industrialised nations next month.

Mrs Beckett added that signing the Kyoto protocol was clearly "off the agenda" for President Bush, who was "coming from a different place in the dialogue" on the issue of global warming. She said the Government had made no secret that it wants the White House to be "more engaged" on climate change. "Certainly there is a degree of disappointment that there isn't more common ground than there already is," she said.

Her remarks come days after Mr Blair returned from talks with President Bush about global warming in Washington.

At Westminster, Mrs Beckett's criticism will be interpreted as a sign of growing frustration with the White House over an issue that the Prime Minister wants to see given top billing at the summit in Glenagles. Mrs Beckett said that President Bush was fully aware of the importance Mr Blair had attached to a breakthrough on climate change during his presidency of the G8. "He [Bush] has known for a long time. He has known since before it was in the public domain that Tony had every intention of making climate change as well as Africa a top priority for our G8 year."

But the Prime Minister's inability to gain concessions from his closest ally, following his backing for military action against Iraq, will be seen by some as a sign that Mr Blair does not have the influence he would like.

Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, said America was a "Neanderthal" when it came to the environment. "As an absolute minimum, George Bush must acknowledge the work of his own scientists that climate change is caused by people," he said.

Mrs Beckett acknowledged Britain had no hope of persuading the US to sign up to Kyoto."The US signing up to Kyoto is off the agenda," she said.

The focus now was on creating a dialogue with the US and other major energy users, including India and China, about the way forward.

Her remarks came as Mr Blair headed to Russia to seek the support of President Vladimir Putin for a breakthrough on climate change at the G8 conference. On a flying visit to Moscow and three European capitals, Mr Blair will try to build on the Russian acceptance of the Kyoto targets for tackling climate change to put more pressure on the US to come on board.

As the Prime Minister prepared to fly out at the start of a hectic 48 hours of diplomacy, his official spokesman raised the prospect that Mr Bush could sign up to a more limited agenda, dubbed "Kyoto Lite'', at the Gleneagles summit. "Russia has signed up to Kyoto," he said. "We said as far back as our talks in Johannesburg that we did not expect the US to sign up to Kyoto. The important point is not to make Kyoto into something you sign or there is nothing.

"The important thing is to recognise concerns about climate change. We agree with the US about the need to bring into the fold some emerging countries, India and China, and we believe we will see it at Gleneagles."

The differences between the US and Britain were starkly illustrated in a leaked G8 document seen by The Independent. President Bush said last week that he wanted more international co-operation on "clean nuke." But a draft of a G8 communiqué shows disagreement over the US's wish for separate section on the role of nuclear power. The draft, Powering a Cleaner Future, says a "UK red line" - area not for negotiation - was the US's singling out of nuclear power as a clean energy source.

It said: "UK red line: Avoid US suggestion for a separate nuclear heading. This would be quite a serious jump in political attention from previous ... texts. Any statement should be couched in language that leaves it up to individual governments to decide whether nuclear is a suitable part of their energy mix."

Mrs Beckett gave a strong indication that she did not support the revival of nuclear power, and construction of new plants, believed to be favoured by Mr Blair, to tackle global warming.

She said new power stations were not the answer to meeting the goal of a 20 per cent cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 or a 60 per cent cut by 2050.

She admitted CO2 emissions were rising in Britain, along with the rest of the Northern hemisphere, and said she was "very" disappointed that the UK was in danger of missing those targets.

Suggested Topics
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits