Tony Blair launches new international dialogue on tackling global warming

Prime Minister Tony Blair launches a new international dialogue Tuesday on tackling global warming, as environment ministers from G-8 countries and other major polluting nations gather in London. The talks, bringing together wealthy nations and emerging economies such as India and China, will focus on moving to a low carbon economy, developing green technology and sustainable energy supplies.

"Energy technology has a crucial role to play in addressing the climate and energy challenges of today and tomorrow," said Britain's Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson, who is co-hosting the daylong meeting.

Environment and energy ministers from the G-8 nations, the United States, Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia, plus China, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia, Australia, Spain, Poland, Nigeria and South Korea will attend the talks. The International Energy Agency, the World Bank and the European Commission will also be represented.

The dialogue emerges from July's G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland where climate change and African poverty topped the agenda. Blair failed to achieve a consensus on the science of global warming at the summit, due to strong resistance from U.S. President George W. Bush. Environmentalists were also dismayed that G-8 leaders avoided taking any concrete steps to fight global warming, such as setting targets or timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But Blair did manage to win agreement for a new round of international talks that he hopes will help forge a united course of action when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Crucially, he wants to draw the United States back into the debate, and end the long standing impasse over the Kyoto accord.

Bush's administration has refused to sign the 1997 protocol, saying the caps on greenhouse gas emissions it demands would damage the U.S. economy. Washington also objects to large developing nations such as China and India being exempt from the treaty.

Blair has acknowledged he has no chance of overcoming such opposition, and instead wants to look beyond Kyoto, focus on developing green technology and encouraging emerging economies to confront the threat of global warming, reports the AP. I.L.

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