Monday, September 26, 2005

Blair and Kyoto

There's been quite a to-do since it was reported that Tony Blair has "changed his thinking" about the Kyoto Protocol. Jonathon Porritt was among those who came thundering back today with "we have to do both" (i.e. innovation *and* targets).

It would be striking if the Prime Minister were to throw out the results of ten years of the best efforts and international negotiation, and the considered and settled policy of his government and its allies - not least as activity gathers pace in the US for cap-and-trade to a target and timetable (either - as with North East power generators - to a Kyoto limit, or to some more relaxed target).

But it's probably wise not to overestimate the significance of his statement. Britain is bound under international treaty to the Kyoto target that it now looks likely to miss. There are number of actors with a significant financial investment in the European Trading Scheme who would be likely to align with a wider political constituency to give him and the UK government a hard time if his remarks proved to be more than musing.

And it's important to recognise that "post-Kyoto" is highly uncertain, as EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas acknowledged late last week.

(note: Life Beyond Oil - a New Statesman supplement on UK energy edited by Emily Mann, and with my contribution on "more intelligent" energy use is now up on the web here)

(note 2: a second shaft of light on Blair's thinking is evidenced by remarks reported from Bill Clinton's parallel summit - see Jonathan Freedland here)

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