Tony Blair Emerges as Authentic (?) Champion for Global Deal on Climate Change

I regularly receive updates from Aubrey Meyer (of whom I spoke last time) on his ongoing campaign to advance ‘Contraction & Convergence’ as the only coherent and equitable response to climate change. About a month ago Aubrey sent me the substance of his intent to ‘take it up a notch’ with a ‘Carbon Countdown’ initiative to be jointly sponsored by a variety of both corporate and public interest groups who share his view that climate change IS the over-riding global priority. His query to me was this: Would the Findhorn Foundation wish to endorse it? Having put this query to Foundation Management, I am very happy to report that it has done so unanimously. For details of this effort, visit:

This new campaign is scheduled to be launched in May of this year.

Even more happily, however, Aubrey’s most recent missive contains a lengthy quote from Tony Blair’s March 15 speech to the G-8 meetings of Environment Ministers in Japan. He reckons, as do I, that Blair really gets the challenge posed by climate change and is, in effect, making the case for Contraction & Convergence (or its equivalent) in support of the ‘Bali Process’ that will culminate 2 years hence in Copenhagen. It’s a really good speech which suggests that Blair’s rhetoric on this issue while UK Prime Minister was not simply ‘hot air’. Along with Aubrey, I encourage you to peruse its substance:

“We have reached the critical moment of decision on climate change. There are few if any, genuine doubters left. Even on the mildest application of the precautionary principles, failure to act on climate change now would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible. It’s true that the issue is now centre stage. But, the amount of emissions, adding to the stock already in the atmosphere, continues to rise, 30% of that rise still coming from the developed world.

“So though it now occupies its rightful place at the top of the agenda and though there is acute awareness, from political leaders and the public, that it is time to act, the unavoidable fact is that the problem continues to get worse.

“What is more, when we examine future trends, the reality of the scale of change necessary to bring about a reversal of the rise and deal with the problem, becomes uncomfortably obvious.

“*Per capita GHG emissions are over 20 tonnes per year in the USA; in Europe and Japan over 10 tonnes; in China close to 5 tonnes. Some estimate they will need to be around 2-2.5 tonnes as a world average by 2050 to allow the necessary reduction of 50% in the global total. But since the poorer nations will see their emissions rise as they industrialise and since the world population may well grow from 6 to 9 billion, the emissions in the richer nations will have to fall close to zero and those in the poorer countries, will have overtime to fall as they industrialise.*

“Put it like that and you can see the vast nature of the challenge. In fact, I would go further; the scale of what is needed is so great that the purpose of any global action is not to ameliorate or to make better our carbon dependence; it is to transform the nature of economies and societies in terms of carbon consumption and emissions. If the average person in the US is say, to emit per capita, one tenth of what they do today and those in the UK or Japan one fifth, we’re not talking of adjustment, we’re talking about a revolution.

“Which brings me to this inescapable conclusion. To transform the way the world grows, is unlikely to be done by measures, however well meaning, taken by individual people, companies and countries. I’m not saying these things are worthless. Far from it. They create innovation. They create awareness of the options. And taken together, have a real impact on the problem. And in theory, each nation, acting unilaterally could take action that together amounted to the necessary change. But in practice that is unlikely. In practice, without collective action, collectively agreed, at a global level, the revolution is unlikely to occur.

“Hence the need for a global deal. The purpose of such a deal is to set an overall global target for the world; and to establish a framework for its implementation, one that is effective, efficient and equitable.”

In conclusion, I must say that I find Tony Blair fascinating. There’s a piece about him by Dr. David Owen in the March 16 edition of the Sunday TIMES that suggests he’s prone to hubris (over-reaching pride). Though that may well be true of both him and George Bush in Iraq, I must say that he has been both consistent and ‘on the money’ on climate change. Indeed, he may well represent one of our last best hopes for securing a global deal on climate change, without which all our gooses are likely to be well and truly cooked.

Roger Doudna
March 2008

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