Blair 'Fails to Lead on Global Warming'

'The Government chief scientists and Tony Blair have both said that climate change is one of the most serious problems facing mankind and Tony Blair has rightly put it at the head of his international agenda. The trouble is that the rhetoric isn't translating into action'.

Published: 30-Mar-2005

Tony Blair's attempts to show international leadership in the battle to combat global warming were dismissed as inadequate yesterday by a committee of MPs.

The Commons environmental audit committee said it was "profoundly concerned" by the Prime Minister's approach to what it described as a "potentially catastrophic threat".

Mr Blair has promised to make global warming and Africa his two priorities while Britain holds the presidency of the G8 group of industrialised nations in 2005.

But the MPs concluded: "The Government is creating the appearance of activity, while evading the harder national and international decisions which must be made if there is to be any solution."

They were particularly critical of Mr Blair's announcement that he wanted to "further explore" the science of global warming and that he wanted to develop technology to address it. The MPs said these priorities were "dismally unambitious" and too similar to the goals set by the Bush administration in America, which has been sceptical about the threat posed by global warming.

The Labour-dominated committee also criticised the Government for pushing for an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide British industry can produce under the European Union's emissions trading regime. As a result Mr Blair was "wantonly squandering" Britain's reputation for leadership on climate change, they said.

Peter Ainsworth, the Tory MP who chairs the committee, told BBC Radio Five Live: "The Government chief scientists and Tony Blair have both said that climate change is one of the most serious problems facing mankind and Tony Blair has rightly put it at the head of his international agenda. The trouble is that the rhetoric isn't translating into action.''

• Figures yesterday showed that Margaret Beckett, the Environment Secretary, used the Queen's Flight more often than the monarch. The Queen used the RAF's 32 (the Royal) Squadron nine times during 2003/4, while Mrs Beckett had 10 foreign trips.

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