Blair optimistic for Bush climate deal

Tony Blair claimed George Bush may agree to a formative deal on climate change at this summer’s G8 summit, but admitted real progress would not be made under his presidency.

The prime minister said America may sign up to “at least the beginnings” of a plan to limit carbon dioxide emissions at the G8 summit.

Germany holds the G8 presidency and has said it will make climate change a priority.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight, Mr Blair said Americans are also increasingly aware of climate change and the need to take action. He pointed to California, which has just set targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He said this was a good sign of shifting attitudes in America.

Mr Blair said: “I can’t think that there’s going to be many people running for presidential office next time round in the US who aren’t going to have climate change in their programme.

“I think it is possible that we will see action – and at least the beginnings of that action at the G8 – I hope so. That’s what I’m arguing for.”

Mr Bush has advocated voluntary agreements and is opposed to binding targets. Despite Mr Blair’s optimism for the G8, the BBC claims to have seen documents showing the US will continue to block a draft climate change agreement at the summit.

Ahead of the summit, the foreign secretary Margaret Beckett this week gave a keynote speech in Japan on climate change and the global response needed.

Pre-empting Mr Blair’s comments, she said there had been a “sea change of opinion” in the past 12 months.

She said governments across the world had been motivated by the Stern Review and reports from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change and increasingly recognise climate change is a threat to global security, stability and the economy.

Ms Beckett said the US and China will be central tackling climate change.

From meetings with Chinese leaders she said it was apparent China is worried about the implications of climate change for economic and social stability and has set its own “challenging goals” on energy efficiency.

She said the “tough targets” set in California could influence other states.