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Blair Starts Mission To Find Alternative To Kyoto Protocol

Agence France-Presse in Makuhari, Japan – Updated on Mar 15, 2008Former British prime minister Tony Blair launched a mission yesterday to break a deadlock in global climate change negotiations and thrash out a deal that includes the United States and China.

Mr Blair, who stepped down last year after a decade in power, was in Japan for a meeting of the world’s top polluters in the so-called Group of 20 initiative on the environment which he launched as prime minister.

As he started the trip, Mr Blair announced he was heading a new team of experts backed by the US and Europe that would work to bridge the gap in slow-moving talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

“What we are trying to do with the group of experts that’s been convened for me is to try to work out what is a global deal that has America and China in it,” he said after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda. He said he would “try to come up with some suggestions and some options that are politically doable”.

“There are plenty of suggestions out there, but they have got to be those that are politically feasible.”

Mr Blair will take part in this weekend’s Group of 20 talks in the Tokyo suburb of Makuhari and then head on to China and India, fast-growing economies and key to any future climate deal.

The United States and China are the world’s two leading emitters of greenhouse gases, but neither has obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. US President George W. Bush, who was a close ally of Mr Blair, has argued that the Kyoto Protocol is unfair by making no demands of developing states.

The Bush administration has resisted EU calls for binding goals on emissions cuts after Kyoto’s obligations end in 2012, although all candidates to succeed Mr Bush next year have promised to be more active in fighting climate change.

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