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'Global climate talks need new initiative'

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the world's top greenhouse gas emitters on Saturday to launch a revolution to fight climate change and said he'll work to sell a new global framework to slash carbon emissions.

world Updated: Mar 15, 2008 13:48 IST
Chikafumi Hodo

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the world's top greenhouse gas emitters on Saturday to launch a revolution to fight climate change and said he'll work to sell a new global framework to slash carbon emissions.

Blair told a gathering of G20 nations, ranging from top carbon emitter the United States to Indonesia and South Africa, that the call to action was clear and urgent and believed part of the solution was a renaissance for nuclear power.

"We have reached the critical moment of decision on climate change. There are few, if any, genuine doubters left," Blair told G20 energy and environment ministers in Chiba, near Toyko.

"If the average person in the United States is say, to emit per capita, one tenth of what they do today and those in Britain or Japan one fifth, we're not talking of adjustment, we're talking about a revolution," he told delegates.

The average American emits the equivalent of about 24 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. In China the figure is about four tonnes.

The talks in Chiba are billed as a dialogue, not a negotiation, and ministers are meeting to discuss ways to curb carbon emissions, technology transfer, funding schemes for developing nations to pay for clean energy as well as adaptation.

Ministers at the talks were being ferried around in fuel cell powered cars, and supporting staff were served traditional "bento" lunches with reusable boxes and chopsticks, instead of the more common throw-away versions.

At the end of the first session on technology, one delegate said South Africa, Indonesia, India and Brazil rejected the label of being major emitters, as defined by a separate forum created by the Bush administration.

"They said 'we may be major economies but we are not major emitters if you look at per-capita figures'," said the delegate, adding there was also division between developing nations and Japan's push for sectoral emissions targets for industry.

Protest
Near the talk's venue, a small group of protesters staged a mock play criticising Japan's focus on sectoral targets, saying the G20 should not accept Tokyo's proposal to curb emissions from polluting industries, such as steelmakers.

Britain said on Friday that sectoral targets were no solution because they were hard to monitor and it was unclear if they would be mandatory or voluntary.

"There is a growing rough consensus that this is an effective approach," Japanese Trade Minister Akira Amari told reporters. "But there were opinions that some aspects were not clear."

Blair said UN-led talks launched in Bali last December were the right forum to work on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol by the end of 2009 that binds all nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

But he said a new initiative was needed to inform and advise the UN-led talks and he would lead the work politically.

He said the Climate Group, a non-profit body backed by industry and government, would assemble a group of experts to try to sketch out what a global deal would look like.

"We will publish a report in June before Japan's G8 summit and then carry on the work so that we can feed a final report into the G8 and UN negotiations next year," he said.

About 190 nations in Bali agreed to find a replacement for Kyoto by the end of 2009 when they gather for a UN meeting in the Danish capital Copenhagen.

Blair said the report would focus on the effectiveness of carbon cap-and-trade systems, global sectoral deals in polluting industries, generation of funds for research and development, technology transfer and deforestation, among other issues.

"Personally, I see no way of tackling climate change without a renaissance of nuclear power. There will have to be a completely different attitude to the sharing of technology and to the patent framework that allows it," he added.

(Additional reporting by Chisa Fujioka and David Fogarty)