Conference diary

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Climate change and Africa, two subjects on which Tony Blair has been outspoken, received only passing mentions in his farewell speech yesterday - but today they will be given the full treatment.

Debates on both issues will look at how policy on global warming and African poverty relief has moved on, since - at Mr Blair's insistence - they topped the agenda of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in July last year.

The conference will hear from distinguished visitors including the Africa champion Bob Geldof and former US president Bill Clinton, plus the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, and his Los Angeles counterpart, Antonio Villaraigosa.

They will be joined by a bevy of cabinet ministers led by Gordon Brown, the Environment Secretary, David Miliband, and the International Development Secretary, Hilary Benn.

The Africa debate will examine progress on turning promises made at Gleneagles into action, particularly on education and health, on achieving a global trade deal that helps the poorest, and on resolving the humanitarian crises in Darfur province and other troubled regions such as the Congo.

The environment debate will focus on climate change and transport (the sector where greenhouse gas emissions are growing the fastest), with Mr Livingstone and Mr Villaraigosa talking of their experience with trying to green the transport sector in large cities - Mr Livingstone with the congestion charge for London, and Mr Villaraigosa with his attempts at improving public transport in car-obsessed LA.

The debate will also examine the possibility of a new international agreement on climate change to replace the Kyoto protocol, the treaty under which industrialised countries are obliged to cut their carbon dioxide emissions, which runs out in 2012.

Since George Bush unilaterally withdrew the US from Kyoto in 2001 it has been virtually dead in the water, and the UK government will be seeking to replace it with a new agreement that encompasses all the big greenhouse gas-emitting nations, including China.

Britain thinks such a treaty should be underpinned by a goal of stabilising world carbon dioxide emissions at a specific level to avoid dangerous climate change - although there is no agreement as yet about what this should be.

At present the level of CO2 in the atmosphere stands at about 380 parts per million by volume (ppm), and is growing by about 2ppm annually.

In his conference speech yesterday Mr Blair repeated his pledge that Britain would cut its CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2050 - which he called "one of the most ambitious targets on the environment set anywhere in the world".


Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, charged with representing Britain's interests around the world, admitted during her conference speech: "You know, geography was never my strong point."


Ken Livingstone has clearly left his radical son-of-toil past long behind. Guests at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel - where rooms cost around £300 a night - were assailed by the sight of the Mayor of London clad only in his dressing gown. He appeared to have been heading towards the gym or the swimming pool. It's a tough life.


Gareth Thomas, an International Development minister and chairman of the Co-op Party, finally got to make his speech to conference yesterday, exactly one year after his last turn on the platform was binned because the veteran left-winger Dennis Skinner turned a five-minute slot into a half-hour tour de force.


You can never accuse the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver of mincing his words. He was characteristically blunt when he took Alan Johnson to task over Labour's progress on school meals. The Education Secretary told a fringe meeting: "Jamie Oliver said to me, 'You've got to be a bit more Nazi about this.' But I don't think they showed that on TV."


Conference centre lavatories have an ample supply of Resolve sachets for "the morning after". Delegates needing to take more drastic action are being offered an "afternoon nap" deal by the city centre pub the Old Nag's Head, where they can sleep off their hangovers for £30.


Tony Blair, who effortlessly rose to the occasion when he delivered his final conference speech as leader.


The next Labour leader, who has a daunting act to follow.


The Independent's, naturally, was the only place to be.