Britain Hopes to Push U.S. on Climate Change, Says Adviser
BERLIN Britain hopes it can exert influence on reelected President George W. Bush and push the United States to do more to combat climate change, the British government's chief scientist said on Thursday.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has made tackling global warming and reducing carbon emissions one of two priorities for Britain's year-long presidency of the Group of Eight (G8) richest nations starting in January.
The United States refused to sign up to the Kyoto treaty on climate change in 2001, and it was held in limbo until Russia's parliament ratified the treaty last month.
Speaking on the sidelines of a British-German conference on climate change in Berlin, the British government's chief scientific adviser David King said London was looking to take advantage of its close relationship with Washington as the Bush administration prepared for its second four-year term.
"What I can say is that we are looking for advantages in the present situation," King said. "We'll be in there very quickly discussing these issues with them prior to our G8 presidency. I think we can feel quite optimisitic about that."
The Kyoto treaty aims to cut CO2 emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States has 4 percent of the world's population but produces one-quarter of global emissions.
King said he was encouraged by comments over the summer by Jack Marburger, Bush's chief scientific adviser, and by Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.
"It's very, very significant the statements that emerged from the U.S. administration over the summer ... stating that they fully accept the scientific arguments for climate change and are keen to play a leadership role," King said. "So far we've been focusing on Russia. Clearly now the spotlight is going to move."