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Saturday, June 28, 2008

G8 COUNTDOWN

Blair shifts focus on climate to Copenhagen conference


Staff writer

The Group of Eight leaders gathering next month in Hokkaido should not attempt to resolve all climate issues up to 2050 or even 2020, but instead focus on setting a clear course for an agreement at next year's U.N. conference in Copenhagen, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday in Tokyo.

News photo
Tony Blair AP PHOTO

Speaking in advance of the July 7-9 G8 summit in Toyako, Blair said the international community is "not going to get an agreement" from the meeting because the positions of the major economies remain too far apart.

The present task for the G8 should therefore be to establish work plans for an agreement in Copenhagen next year, and to begin "a process that will then undergo revision and adjustment as our knowledge improves and the facts become clearer," he said.

During a news conference at a hotel in Minato Ward that was attended by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Blair described climate change issues as "truly profound" and "as institutionally fraught as any the international community has had to deal with since the postwar Bretton Woods economic settlement."

He acknowledged the progress that Japan has made on the issue and commended the leadership of Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who he spoke with earlier in the day, as well as climate policies set by Abe, Fukuda's predecessor.

But carbon dioxide emissions in Japan and the United States exceed 1990 levels, he pointed out, and noted, too, that the EU's progress in reducing emissions has also stalled.

While a long-term target of 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 sets a direction, those targets are "beyond the political life of any government," he said in pointing to the need for nations to lay out a realistic path to the goal.

Meanwhile, the framework to fight climate change must also assure developing countries of their right to the benefits of economic growth and prosperity, Blair said.

Blair is in Tokyo to put forward a report by the Climate Group, a nonprofit association of scientists, business organizations and supporters.



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