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Blair Seeks To Secure Bush Backing For New Climate Treaty: Times
British Prime Minister Tony Blair is seeking to secure US President George W. Bushs backing for a new international treaty that would end US isolation in the fight against global warming, a newspaper said Thursday.
The prime minister's office confirmed that Blair had held "lengthy discussions" with Bush about a fresh initiative that would bypass Washingtons opposition to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, The Times said.
One source described the deal as "Kyoto-lite," it said.
The deal would involve scientific agreement on the scale and nature of the threat, as well as an international program to develop the technology needed for renewable energy and the reduction of carbon emissions, it said.
Although the White House still appears deeply skeptical about the initiative, a source at the prime minister's office said: "There is an awful lot of work going on in the background on this, it is being given the highest priority."
The Times said Blair had talks at his office Tuesday last week with US Senator John McCain over how to broker an agreement.
Stephen Byers, the former cabinet minister and a close ally of Blair, has made several trips to the United States for discussions with other leading Republicans such as Senator Olympia Snowe, his co-chairman on the International Taskforce on Climate Change.
Byers said: "We are not in the business of giving George Bush a fig leaf on this issue. We want action from the US that makes a real difference."
In Buenos Aires, a US official said Tuesday that Washington would not change its approach to climate change, charging that the Kyoto Protocol was not underpinned by scientific fact, but based on politics.
But French Ecology Minister Serge Lepeltier said in Paris earlier this week the United States will sooner or later rejoin the Kyoto Protocol, even though the Bush administration still shuns the United Nations' global warming pact.
Blair said Wednesday that Britain looked likely to miss its own ambitious target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2010.
Under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol, Britain must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide, by 12.5 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
However, Blair remained determined that Britain will make fighting climate change a priority when he assumes the chairmanship of the G8 group of leading industrial countries.
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Global warming skeptics for some time have been using as a scientific linchpin data that suggest temperatures in the lower atmosphere are rising more slowly than those at the surface.
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