World needs revolution in climate change: Blair

by Kaho Shimizu

CHIBA — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Saturday urged both developed and developing countries to break their stalemate and reach a global deal that will allow all major carbon dioxide emitters to take collective action on climate change.

In addressing the opening of the 4th Ministerial Meeting of the meeting, dubbed the “G8 Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development” at Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, Blair said, “failure to act on climate change now would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible.”

The three-day ministerial meeting, also known as the G20 because it involves countries outside the G8 major industrialized economies, includes China and India. It began in 2005 following the G8 summit held in Gleneagles in Britain, when Blair was prime minister.

The meeting has been held every year since then, and this year’s discussion in Chiba marks the last G20 meeting prior to the G8 summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, in July.

Confrontations between the rich and poor nations and even among the rich countries themselves, have stalled negotiations on finding a new framework to curb global warming after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

“The dilemma is this: how to cut a deal that has both the developed and developing world in it, recognizing that the obligations on the one can’t be the same as the obligations on the other,” Blair said.

Because the scale of change needed is so great, he said, any global effort should go beyond just trying to ameliorate the situation.

“We’re not talking about an adjustment here, we’re talking about a revolution,” Blair said. “It is to transform the nature of economies and societies in terms of carbon consumption and emissions . . . and without collective action, collectively agreed at a global level, the revolution is unlikely to occur.”

Hence the need for a global deal, Blair argued, and he believes that once such a deal is in place, it will give the world’s businesses and industries an impetus to see environmental technology as a huge business opportunity, not as a cost.

While acknowledging that agreeing on a global framework is hard, Blair said the time has come to act.

“No one underestimates how huge this challenge is. But the time has come,” he said. “The rest is political will and leadership. And now, in my judgment, is the time we have to show.”