» Thursday, December 9, 2004

Climate Change

Asked what efforts the Prime Minister was making to get President Bush’s support on Britain’s G8 priority to tackle climate change the PMOS said that in terms of President Bush and climate change as we had said when we returned from the White House in November we had discussed the issue. The Prime Minister reported as such to the House of Commons on the 17 November. We had also said we were seeking a consensus on the way forward and that consensus would be taken further forward in February whenever as announced we would be holding a scientific conference, to be held in Exeter, of international experts on this subject. People should recognise that the US position was not just a position singular to President Bush. The Senate, after all, had voted 96-0 in rejection of Kyoto and that position had been there since President Clinton’s tenure. The key was also to recognise, as the Prime Minister had said in Johannesburg, that while we believed Kyoto to be very important, and we did not in any way resile from Kyoto, we also had to recognise that Kyoto by itself was not enough to tackle the issue. What we had to do was push forward on the technological front to try and make compatible more environmentally friendly technology whilst at the same time not harming economic growth in the world. If you harmed economic growth then you did not have the resources to keep pushing forward world development. At the same time you had to tackle the real problems of climate change. It was how you reconciled those problems and how you achieved a consensus that was why we were making it a G8 priority. In reality the issues of climate change and Africa were related and therefore that was why they would form the backbone of our G8 presidency approach.

Asked if there were on going efforts between the Prime Minister and President Bush to work towards that aim the PMOS said that in some ways he was surprised that the question was asked because we had said consistently that we were talking to the Americans about this. Therefore what we had said after the November visit to the White House to that extent was nothing new. We had always been involved in dialogue, not only with the Americans, but also with the our European partners and other countries around the world – both developed countries such as Japan and developing countries such as China, India and so on. Asked how important it was to get the Americans on board, the PMOS said that it was important that we got the world as a whole on board and that we got a consensus, a consensus about science, a consensus about the possibility for change and a consensus about the nature of the problem. That was what we were trying to do with the Exeter conference and our G8 Presidency. Asked if the US was moving towards the British position the PMOS said that our G8 Presidency had not yet begun and the point about the Exeter conference was to try and work towards that consensus. We could not speak for the Americans about what there view was but the important thing was that we tried to reach a genuine consensus. That would not happen instantaneously but the more we discussed it and the more we pushed forward the technology the more chance there was of reaching that consensus.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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