UK's Blair Pushes to Speed up Climate Change Talks
LONDON British Prime Minister Tony Blair, armed with evidence of the disastrous impact of ignoring climate change, will talk to Germany's leader on Friday about speeding up a drive for a new international pact against global warming.
Blair's meeting in London with German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes before United Nations talks in Kenya next week to hunt for new ways to fight climate change.
But experts say it may take three years or more to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan for curbing emissions of greenhouse gases which runs out in 2012.
Britain hopes a report it commissioned, which found the costs of inaction in the face of global warming far outweighed those of taking urgent measures, will galvanise efforts to reach a broad new international agreement.
Former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern's report, published this week, said failure to act could plunge the world into an economic crisis on a par with the 1930s Depression.
Merkel, a former environment minister, has said she will make fighting climate change a priority next year when Germany takes over the presidency of both the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialised nations and the European Union.
"He (Blair) will want to discuss with her how to accelerate discussions on a post-2012 framework on climate change and whether the G8 under the Germans could agree the major elements of that framework," a spokesman for Blair said.
Blair says a post-Kyoto framework must include the United States as well as big developing nations China and India.
SEEKING U.S. COOPERATION
U.S. President George W. Bush pulled out of Kyoto in 2001, saying it would cut U.S. jobs and wrongly left out developing nations. Kyoto obliges 35 industrialised nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions thought to cause global warming.
Merkel has said efforts to stop global warming without the cooperation of the United States, the world's largest producer of greenhouse gases, are doomed.
But winning round Washington could be difficult and some experts say a deal on a post-2012 pact may have to wait until Bush leaves the White House in January 2009.
As for EU policy, Blair believes there is a real opportunity for the bloc to agree on a "bold new European energy and climate strategy that reduces our dependence on carbon fuels, increases the diversity of energy supplies and increases energy efficiency based on new clean technologies", the spokesman said.
The EU's executive Commission approved a plan last month to cut EU energy use by 20 percent by 2020. The plan for more efficient buildings, cars, generators and appliances comes as EU doubts have grown over the reliability of Russian supplies.
Other topics on the agenda for Friday's talks include Afghanistan -- where Britain and Germany both have troops -- the Middle East, Iran's nuclear programme and the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, the spokesman said.
A German government spokesman said the two leaders would also discuss North Korea, which carried out an underground nuclear test last month in defiance of international pressure.
Blair and Merkel are scheduled to hold a joint news conference on Friday evening.
(Additional reporting by Dave Graham in Berlin)