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Blair's Climate Change Speech
Jamais Cascio, 15 Sep 04

Emily noted yesterday that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was to make a major speech on the subject of climate change today. Well, he did. Here it is.

Some excerpts:

[...] the challenge is complicated politically by two factors. First, its likely effect will not be felt to its full extent until after the time for the political decisions that need to be taken, has passed. In other words, there is a mismatch in timing between the environmental and electoral impact. Secondly, no one nation alone can resolve it. It has no definable boundaries. Short of international action commonly agreed and commonly followed through, it is hard even for a large country to make a difference on its own.

[...] Just as science and technology has given us the evidence to measure the danger of climate change, so it can help us find safety from it. The potential for innovation, for scientific discovery and hence, of course for business investment and growth, is enormous. With the right framework for action, the very act of solving it can unleash a new and benign commercial force to take the action forward, providing jobs, technology spin-offs and new business opportunities as well as protecting the world we live in.

[...] Here it is important to stress the scale of the implications for the developing world. It is far more than an environmental one, massive though that is. It needs little imagination to appreciate the security, stability and health problems that will arise in a world in which there is increasing pressure on water availability; where there is a major loss of arable land for many; and in which there are large-scale displacements of population due to flooding and other climate change effects.

It is the poorest countries in the world that will suffer most from severe weather events, longer and hotter droughts and rising oceans. Yet it is they who have contributed least to the problem. That is why the world's richest nations in the G8 have a responsibility to lead the way: for the strong nations to better help the weak.

[...] Climate change will be a top priority for our G8 Presidency next year.

Most of my friends in the UK aren't terribly impressed with Blair these days, but it's still worth applause when he makes the right call.

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Comments

Thanks for following this up, Jamais. What do you think of the UK enviro community's response: "nice speech, but where are the policy proposals?"


Posted by: Emily Gertz on 15 Sep 04

From the perspective of an American, this speech is bracing, radical stuff:

A world leader saying that global warming is real, but a bad thing, with no mealy-mouthed weasel phrases inserted on the insistence of buddies at the American Enterprise Institute or the Patriot's Alliance to Protect Families of Fossil Fuel Workers (a division of Exxon-Mobil).

Policy proposals? Yes, that would be nice. But first you lay out the facts and get a fire going. Admitting there's a problem is half the battle.


Posted by: Stefan Jones on 16 Sep 04

What Stefan said.

I suspect that some of the Eurogreen skepticism about the speech comes from Blair's suck-up-itude towards Bush and the Iraq war. All of the Euro/UK progressives that I know have lost any affection for Blair they may have once had.


Posted by: Jamais Cascio on 16 Sep 04

The speech is part of Blair's attempt to win back left-leaning voters that he lost through his stance on Iraq. It's a PR gig - that's where there's no mention of policies, nor of onshore windpower and plenty of mention of Kyoto.


Posted by: Lee on 17 Sep 04



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