Michael McCarthy: PM has his critics but deserves credit on global warming


Pressure groups exist to apply pressure, not to take a fair and balanced view of things, so it is perhaps natural that governments can never seem to satisfy them. But it is hard not to feel sympathy for Tony Blair when he laments that his Government does not get the credit it deserves, from green groups and others, over its record on climate change.

On the international front, at least, the Blair administration's record is creditable. Let us not forget that this is the government that signed the Kyoto protocol, the climate change treaty, nine years ago next month, and that the now-discredited figure of John Prescott played a major role in successfully concluding the late-night negotiations in the Japanese city - an outcome that was by no means assured.

Furthermore, since Mr Blair himself started taking a personal interest in climate change and speaking out on it, from 2000, he has propelled it to near the top of the international agenda virtually single-handed; no other world leader has so emphasised the danger. Although a major charge against him from Britain's greens has been that, domestically at any rate, his actions have not matched his rhetoric, Mr Blair's efforts culminated at the G8 meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland in July last year, when he succeeded in getting China, soon to be the world's biggest carbon emitter, to talk about its emissions for the first time, along with four other rapidly-industrialising developing nations.

This crucial breakthrough was instantly overshadowed by the London bombs that went off the next day, and it is in the context of this "Gleneagles dialogue" that, as we report today, Britain is now seeking a global greenhouse gas stabilisation target, which would be the biggest step forward since Kyoto. For the early years after his 1997 election victory, Tony Blair was with the British people. Since then, the British public have steadily fallen out of love with him, most of all over Iraq. But that should blind no one to the fact that what he has done on climate change has been of the utmost importance, not just for Britain, but for the world.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Thousands of Russian troops marched on Red Square in the annual Victory Day parade in a proud display of the nation's military might amid escalating tensions over Ukraine  

Once again, the West fails to understand Russia

Mary Dejevsky
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before