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15 July 2024

Blair's guide to combating climate change


By Staff Writer

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi this week to tread carefully when agreeing on a global accord on climate change. He laid out his seven-step guide and the major pitfalls.

1. Small steps First, it needs not just a 2050 target but an interim target to get there, for example a target for 2020 that shows seriousness of intent and gives business a clear unequivocal signal to invest in a low carbon future.

2. Developing world Secondly, that interim target will inevitably be for the developed world. But it will have to be matched by obligations – albeit differentiated – on behalf of the developing world. This is where the strategic partnerships between China and America, India and America and Europe with all three will be of such paramount significance. The developed world should be prepared to share the technology and to help fund its introduction. The developing world must be prepared to accelerate the pace of its change in conjunction with such help.

3. Realistic targets Third, my strong advice to global leaders is: don't make the best the enemy of the good. The deal must of course be sufficiently radical to guide the world in a new direction. It must imply transformation, step-change not small steps. But it must also be realistic.

4. Transition and transformation Fourth, we should be severely practical about the measures we take. The new technology is exciting and do not misunderstand me, absolutely essential. Without it, there will be no transformation. But some of the things we can do don't belong in the realms of science fact or fiction. Energy efficiency can account for over one quarter of the whole of what we need to do.

5. Consume differently, not less Fifth, in presenting the case to our people, let us avoid the trap of saying: consume less. Instead, let us ask people to consume differently. During my decade in office, the UK saw greenhouse gas emissions fall, but its economy grow. There are now more jobs in the new environmental industries than in coal, steel and shipping combined. The business opportunities of green growth are vast.

6. Investment not charity Sixth, we will be compelled to develop a global system of financing both some of the change and, most particularly, the costs of adaptation. This will be an intricate, not to say delicate, part of the negotiation. We must reform the Clean Development Mechanism of Kyoto or invent another way to generate the funds. I advise against treating it as an aid issue.

7. Big players must agree Seventh and last, is the process itself. The UN negotiators are engaged in an heroic, not to say Herculean task. Knitting the disparate elements together in a global deal is technically complex and politically sensitive to an unusual degree. The UN needs a steer, and lead, from the key countries. There is no point in being naive about this. Unless the major emitters agree, there will be no agreement.