» Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Washington/Africa/Climate Change

The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) began the briefing by setting out what the Government believed had been achieved during the Prime Minister’s trip to Washington DC. From our perspective yesterday had been about getting on the road to Gleneagles and that we believed we did, both in terms of Africa and on Climate Change.

On Africa as the Prime Minister said, we accepted that this was not about something for nothing. Not only did we have to identify what Africa needed, but also how to address those needs in a way which would make a real difference on the ground, in partnership with Governments in Africa which were committed to delivering real improvements in a transparent and accountable way. The vision outlined both in the Africa Commission report and the US millennium challenge account were in alignment. Hence the importance of relieving 100% debt for the poorest countries and we believed we were near a deal on that and could finalise it this weekend at the meeting of finance ministers in London. Secondly what was important on increasing aid, was not only did President Bush point out that America had already tripled aid, which we fully accepted, he also said that it would continue to lead on the issue and "do more." What the next few weeks would be about was exploring how that commitment could be put into practice and how we could take forward the position on trade, not just with the US, but with the rest of the G8 including Europe.

On climate change as the Prime Minister said, whilst we may start from different positions on the science, we were converging on the same answers. And, as the President had explained, the US had spent more on research into both climate change itself and new technology than anyone else. The next few weeks would be about finding a way to address the issue together, not just in the G8 but also in line with the emerging countries including China and India. Overall we were not there yet. What yesterday had confirmed was our belief that the ambitions we had set out for Gleneagles could still be realised. As President Bush had said, the US was determined to take the lead.

Asked about the disagreement between the US and the UK on the science of climate change, the PMOS said that people did take different positions on the science and some people had taken a different perspective on it. There was no point forcing people into a position of having to pass a test of having one verdict on the science. The important point was, whether it was from the aspect of the science, or securing energy supplies, was that were developing alternative new technologies which addressed the problem of climate change. Not that we forced people into having identical positions on the science. As he had said on Monday, we had to recognise that the US was not going to sign up to Kyoto. We had recognised that for quite some considerable time. We also had to recognise that the important thing was that we drew the emerging nations such as India and China into the debate on the issue. Their growth made that essential and Kyoto had not done that. What we needed was a new consensus based around the new technology which addressed the problems. Questioned further on the American position on the science of climate change, the PMOS said that the Americans would speak for themselves. In any case what was important was what people actually did. What we and the rest of the world had to recognise was that America spent more on research into this issue than any other country and it spent more on developing new technology than any other country.

Asked if we were in the territory of having a separate agreement to Kyoto, the PMOS said that the territory we were in was bringing China and India and other emerging nations into the debate. Those countries were going to have an enormous affect on the issue when you at looked at their growth potential. Equally what was important was that we didn’t just say new technology is only an issue for the US. It was everybody’s issue, working coherently to push it forward. Asked if the Government was therefore accepting that Kyoto was dead, the PMOS said no. We remained committed to Kyoto. What was important however was to recognise that the US, actually before President Bush’s time, had taken a position on Kyoto which was not going to change. We should also recognise as the Prime Minister had, as long ago as the Johannesburg summit, that Kyoto had limitations. Those limitations included the fact that it didn’t include Indian and China under its umbrella. It was not a question of binning Kyoto or anything like that. It was about building on that and widening the impact on what we did on the issue.

Asked about debt relief for Africa, the PMOS said that in terms of the countries, the 100% debt relief would benefit 25 of the poorest countries. What he would not do ahead of the finance minister’s meeting was get into the detail how that would be done. It was important that in the President’s and the Prime Minister’s comments they both underlined that this should not affect the workings of the World Bank or the IMF. The money would be additional and that was important. In terms of the ambitions concerning aid, we haven’t in any way lowered our ambitions. They were still the same. He would not give a running commentary on adding up how much cash had been reserved. What was important was to recognise was that we were still at the stage of preparing for Gleneagles; we were not at Gleneagles yet. What was important about yesterday was that there was a real dialogue about aid going on with the US administration and the other G8 members, about how we achieved our ambitions. It was about how we found practical solutions to help Africa and give it what it needs. As the Prime Minister said yesterday at the Press Conference, the starting point wasn’t that you started with a sum and worked backwards. The starting point was what the Africa Commission Report had done, which was to look at Africa and what it needed and then see how much you needed to increase aid.

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


  1. If the PMOS could map-read it would help, but the ‘road to Gleneagles’ is up the M9, then take the A9 past Dunblane, Glenloaning and Blackford and then turn left onto the A823.

    The Hotel is about a mile up on your left. Telephone 01764 662231 in case you get lost (and we can all live in hope about that!). Oh, and if I’m late arriving please just start without me.

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 8 Jun 2005 on 5:11 pm | Link
  2. Sorry chaps, it’s Greenloaning not Glenloaning. – Probably too much Glenmorangie at lunch today (still, I can certainly spell that correctly!)

    Anyway, see you all there then, together with the various other foreign potentates (but we won’t let them get in the way of the golf, eh?)

    Comment by Chuck Unsworth — 8 Jun 2005 on 7:27 pm | Link
  3. Sorry to disappoint you Chuck, but attending the G8 Summit doesn’t fit my budgetary process

    Comment by Colonel Mad — 8 Jun 2005 on 11:24 pm | Link

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