Blair launches climate group, pledges support

Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged his support for a new organisation dedicated to tackling climate change, this week. The Climate Group, launched in London, brings together financial institutions, business leaders, civil organisations and governments to identify "best practice" for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Climate Group includes oil companies Shell and BP, as well as global bank HSBC, as members.

At the launch, Mr Blair said: "Climate change is the most important environmental issue facing the world today. By bringing together progressive businesses, states and cities from across the world, the Climate Group will enable these organisations to show leadership, and to demonstrate the benefits of taking early action to cut greenhouse gas emissions. I welcome the launch of The Climate Group and look forward to hearing of its progress."

Mr Blair's involvement was soon criticised as "mere tokenism" by the Liberal Democrats' environment spokesman, Norman Baker.

"This was supposed to be the Prime Minister's ritual once-a-year environment speech. But this time he had so little to say that he spoke for less than 10 minutes. His contribution was a string of warm words and hot air; exhortation without follow through."

Mr Blair's involvement comes in the same week as a report by the Sustainable Energy Policy Network that says greenhouse gas emissions have risen in the past year. The report says that Britain's CO2 emissions rose by 1.4% last year, while the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources fell from 3% to 2.9%.

Climate Group Chief Executive, Dr Steve Howard, said: "The Climate Group is looking beyond Kyoto, which is a first step in driving reductions. We know there are many leading companies and governments dedicated to meeting or exceeding those targets. By bringing the key players together for the first time, we believe that the world can turn the corner on climate change."

He added that there was a range of choices which can be made by corporations, governments or individuals. "Many of these solutions are cost effective, and in many cases such as BP's and Dupont's experience, they can create significant profit."

The Climate Group will be holding a major conference for leading 'reducers' in Toronto in mid-May, and subsequent meetings are planned in Europe, California and Australia.

By David Hopkins



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