Geoffrey Lean: No thanks, more a slap in the face

Share
Related Topics

The United States has got together with Australia - the only other developed country, apart from Monaco and Liechtenstein, to have refused to ratify the Kyoto protocol - to put forward their own solution to global warming: an "Asia-Pacific partnership for clean development and climate" with China, India, Japan and South Korea.

Australia calls the initiative - which brings together countries accounting for half of the entire world's carbon dioxide emissions - "bigger, more practical, and more likely to get results" than Kyoto.

But, unlike the treaty, it contains no targets for cutting the pollution, resting instead on vague undertakings to use cleaner technologies.

Humiliatingly for Mr Blair, the President told him nothing about the plan even though the Prime Minister has made global warming a centrepiece of his presidency of the G8 this year.

Worse, the partnership is to hold its first meeting in November, neatly upstaging what at the time looked like the Gleneagles summit's main achievement: the opening of pioneering talks on tackling climate change between the G8 countries and key developing ones that same month.

And, worse still, it could be used to sabotage vital negotiations in November for greater reductions in the pollution after 2012, when the Kyoto protocol expires.

It looks like spite, and it probably is. George Bush was furious with Tony Blair for putting him on the spot at the Gleneagles summit by focusing on global warming and publicly pressing him to make concessions. Rather than respecting the Prime Minister's leadership, he seems to be trying to put him in his place.

Yet Mr Blair, if he responds cannily and strategically, could yet call Mr Bush's bluff and turn the initiative to his - and, more importantly - the world's benefit. He first has to avoid falling into the President's trap by attacking the new initiative's concentration on technology as contradicting Kyoto's emphasis on mandatory cuts in pollution. In fact, they are complementary. The big cuts needed will not happen without new, much cleaner technology. But business will not develop or adopt it without the stimulus and predictability of continuing forced reductions.

Next, he needs to exploit the advantages the initiative offers. It shows how much pressure Mr Bush is under on global warming at home that he has to appear to offer an alternative solution. It also suggests that China and India are trying to get Europe and the US to compete to sell them clean technologies, without which burning their vast coal reserves alone will be enough to ruin the climate.Mr Blair has started well by refusing to be publicly miffed, and cautiously welcoming the initiative. He must now rally Europe and the rest of the world to insist on continuing the Kyoto process, and keep the pressure up on Mr Bush. As President of the EU over the next six months, he is ideally placed to do so.

It will take the kind of strategic thinking that brought London the Olympics. We have already seen some of this from both Mr Blair in the run-up to Gleneagles and in Gordon Brown's announcement last week that Sir Nick Stern, who pulled together the Africa Commission, is to report on how tackling global warming can be made to benefit the economy.

By using the new initiative to bind the US into a worldwide assault on global warming, Mr Blair could yet turn the snub into a breakthrough.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Teacher of Thinking School Drive Team and Year 3 Form teacher

Competitive: Notting Hill Prep School: Spring Term 2015 Innovative, ambitious ...

Programmatic Business Development Manager

£35 - £40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: As the Programmatic Business Develo...

Year 5 Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is currently recruitin...

Year 6 Teacher - January start

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past