Blair asks US to lead on climate change to rope in India, China

May 30th, 2008 - 11:53 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 30 (IANS) Former British prime minister Tony Blair has asked the US to take the lead on climate change to ensure an effective agreement in which China and India take part along with other major emitters. “Without an American commitment, a global deal is impossible,” said Blair, who recently launched the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative to promote a new global agreement on climate change.

Hanging over all the progress on the issue is a political reality, he wrote in an Op Ed piece in the Washington Post Thursday. “There will be no consequential action on climate change unless there is a global deal.”

“For that to happen, the United States has to lead to ensure that we have an effective agreement in which China and India take part,” Blair said.

Describing it as an important moment where the US can show strong leadership, he said: “If the United States commits to the 50 percent global target for a reduction in emissions by mid-century and to legislation that mandates action, it will transform the prospects for effective change.”

“The UN process has produced the formula: There should be common but differentiated obligations for developing and developed nations,” Blair noted.

Commending the climate change bill that the US senate is due to debate next week as a “hugely important signal of intent on behalf of US legislators” Blair said: “It says - and shows - that America will act. It will allow the United States to say to others: You must act, too.”

The bill’s core proposition is correct, he said. “Unless the United States radically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, along with other major emitters, the damage to the climate will be irreversible.”

Much is already happening on the issue, he said, noting Europe has introduced the emissions trading scheme, China has already set new energy intensity targets and “India is to unveil its first national climate action plan in the next few weeks”.

The Group of Eight (G8) major industrialised nations will have climate change high on their agenda at their July meeting. At the same time, President George Bush will hold the major economies meeting, Blair noted.

And it’s not just outside the US: A majority of US states have climate action plans, and many American cities are already working toward emissions reductions.

But radical reduction is unlikely to happen through voluntary action alone, Blair said. Measures in the bill, through a mandatory cap-and-trade scheme, would reduce emissions 70 percent from 2005 levels by 2050, he noted. These cuts would be based on a carbon market incentive system that moves with the grain of action around the globe.

About 190 nations have agreed to negotiate by the end of 2009 a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which binds 37 advanced nations to cut emissions by an average of five percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

But wide gaps exist inside the G8 and between rich and poorer nations over how to share the burden of fighting climate change. The US for one is unwilling to exempt India and China from proposed emission cuts.

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