'Climate change will fail without US, China and India'

Published on Mar 29, 2006 07:26 PM IST

British PM Tony Blair added failing to address the issue would leave an irresponsible legacy for future generations.

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None | ByPhil Hazlewood (AFP), Auckland

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called Wednesday for an international agreement on tackling climate change, but warned that any deal would fail unless it included the United States, China and India.

Speaking at the end of a brief stop in New Zealand in which global warming has dominated the agenda, Blair said failing to address the issue would leave an irresponsible legacy for future generations.

"What's necessary is to get an international agreement that has got a framework with a stabilisation goal in it, so that we can set a very clear objective for everybody to aim at," he told journalists after talks with counterpart Helen Clark.

"Without the participation of America and the emerging economies of China and India there isn't going to be a solution," Blair said.

The United States rejected the 1997 UN Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gas emissions as too expensive for its oil-dependent economy. The booming economies of China and India are two of the fast-growing users of fossil fuels.

Blair said seizing the initiative on the issue would require changes in lifestyle and radical technological solutions.

"You've got to develop the science, the technology and the changes in behaviour necessary to meet that goal.

"But it won't be done unless there is a development of the technology that, I think, needs to
be as revolutionary as the Internet was for information technology."

His own government's climate policy review, published Tuesday, indicated Britain is likely to better Kyoto's target of a 12.5 per cent reduction in overall carbon emissions.

But it also suggested London would fall short of its own long-standing commitment to cut carbon dioxide gases by 20 per cent of 1990 levels by 2010. Instead emissions were likely to be cut by 15-18 per cent, the report said.

Climate change figured high on the agenda of the New Zealand leg of Blair's Asia-Pacific tour. He earlier told a conference in Wellington that any failure to strike a deal would hand an appalling legacy to future generations.

Blair said the world must build on the emerging consensus about the man-made causes of climate change at meetings of the Group of Eight richest nations in St Petersburg, Russia, and of the G8 plus Five in Mexico in September.

"If we operate on anything like the precautionary principle, you have to say that the science is sufficiently clear and, in my view, is pretty much certain that it would be deeply irresponsible not to take action," he said.

He added, "I do not want it on the conscience certainly of me and people of my generation that we were told what this problem was in the early part of the 21st century, did nothing about it and then my children and their children end up having to deal with the consequences."

Clark told a joint news conference with Blair in Auckland that the visit -- the first bilateral visit by a British prime minister since 1958 -- had strengthened the relationship between their two countries.

Their talks included Afghanistan, where both countries have been involved in reconstruction and counter-narcotics efforts following the fall of the hardline Islamist Taliban regime, plus bilateral immigration and investment.

They also agreed to set up annual security talks covering counter-terrorism and combating arms proliferation, organised crime and narcotics as well as global and regional issues.
Blair left New Zealand early Wednesday evening for Indonesia.

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