An attempt to strike a new deal on climate change after the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012 is at risk of failing, the Secretary of State for the Environment warned.
With 190 nations involved, it might be impossible to persuade the world community to commit to cutting the volume of carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere, Margaret Beckett hinted before flying to Canada to head the EU negotiating team at the Montreal summit on climate change.
Her warning echoes a speech earlier this month by Tony Blair, who dampened the hopes of environmentalists by delivering what he called the "blunt truth" - that no government will "sacrifice" economic growth for the sake of reducing global warning.
The Government is still intent on finding a workable international agreement, Ms Beckett said. It wants one that involves the US government, which refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol committing 40 rich nations to cutting their carbon emissions. The Montreal summit is intended to be a step towards a post-2012 agreement.
Ms Beckett brushed aside the suggestion from some environmental groups that the EU should ignore US sensibilities and try to impose another Kyoto-style protocol knowing that President George Bush will not sign it.
"People don't realise that at Buenos Aires it was only just possible at the last minute to squeak through an agreement to do, say or consider anything that even had the word 'future' in it, or any phrase that could be interpreted as committing the global community to talking about the future," she said.Reuse content