Blair Urges Dialogue with U.S. on Climate Change
LONDON − Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday urged a new international dialogue with the United States on climate change, weeks before Britain takes over the presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations.
"The most important thing is to try to get a dialogue with America on how we recognise both the scale of the problem on greenhouse gas emissions and a process that enables us to confront and deal with it," Blair told a news conference.
The U.S., the world's biggest polluter, withdrew in 2001 from the Kyoto Protocol which aims to reduce manmade atmospheric pollutants known as greenhouse gases -- said by scientists to cause global warming.
Blair has vowed to make tackling global warming a priority of Britain's G8 presidency, but acknowledges there is little prospect of Washington signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.
Signatories are legally bound to meet quantitative targets for reducing or limiting emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists say carbon dioxide released from burning oil, coal and gas in power plants and cars is the main cause of global warming.
The U.S. argued the Kyoto agreement was too expensive and unfairly exempted developing but fast-industrialising nations like India and China.
Russia formally ratified the Kyoto accord earlier this month, clearing the way for it to come into force in February 2005.
Blair, criticised at home for his close relationship with U.S. President George W. Bush, said Britain disagreed with the United States on its refusal to sign up to the pact.
But he said he was looking for new ways of working with Washington on environmental issues.
"I hope that through the G8 process we can get back into dialogue on it ... what I am trying to do is find a different way forward in order to handle this issue," said Blair.
He said that however unpopular the United States was for its stance, any meaningful action on trying to prevent climate change had to have Washington's participation.