Letter from the Prime Minister, Rt Hon
Tony Blair MP (U45)
Thank you for your letter of 15 December on
the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee's inquiry "Climate
change: looking forward". This letter sets out, as requested,
the main elements of No 10's engagement with the US on this issue.
Climate change is a critical issue and, as you
know, a major priority for this year's UK Presidency of the G8.
I have made it plain that we will not be able to come up with
an adequate global response to this challenge without engaging
The differences between ourselves and the US
Administration over Kyoto are well known. However, as I say in
my article in The Economist of 1 January, the US is taking some
steps to address the issue: their spending on climate science
and technology is impressive; many individual States are taking
ambitious action; and, at a national level, other approaches are
being considered such as the McCain-Lieberman Bill. I firmly believe
there is scope for working more closely with the US on the international
climate change agenda, both through the measures we intend to
press for in the G8 Presidency, and also through the international
framework, the UNFCCC.
I covered some aspects of our relations with
the US on climate change in my oral evidence to the Liaison Committee
on 6 July 2004. I specifically addressed the issue in my latest
speech on climate change, in September 2004, when I said:
"We know there is disagreement with the
US over this issue. In 1997 the US Senate voted 95-0 in favour
of a resolution that stated it would refuse to ratify such a treaty.
I doubt time has shifted the numbers very radically."
But the US remains a signatory to the UN Framework
Convention on Climate Change, and the US National Academy of Sciences
agree that there is a link between human activity, carbon emissions
and atmospheric warming. Recently the US Energy Secretary and
Commercial Secretary jointly issued a report again accepting the
potential damage to the planet through global warming.
I also spoke on this subject when I addressed
Congress in July 2003:
" . . . we need to go beyond even Kyoto,
and science and technology is the way. Climate change, deforestation,
the voracious drain on natural resources cannot be ignored. Unchecked,
these forces will hinder the economic development of the most
vulnerable nations first and ultimately all nations. So we must
show the world that we are willing to step up to these challenges
around the world and in our own backyards . . . America must listen
as well as lead"
Climate change is a regular topic of discussion
between myself and President Bush and was one of the subjects
we covered during my most recent visit in November 2004. It is
an issue that is often raised in other meetings I have with US
interlocutors, such as the meeting you mention with Senator John
Officials in my office work closely with Defra
and other departments on climate change, and maintain regular
contact with members of the US Administration, as well as with
other US stakeholders.
I look forward to hearing of the conclusions
of the Committee's inquiry.
Rt Hon Tony Blair MP