Bush, Britain and Greenhouse Gases

As the G8 summit wraps up in Scotland, Elizabeth Shogren reports on whether the Bush administration is any closer to embracing the British position on reducing greenhouse gases.

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As the world's leading industrialized nations concluded the G8 Summit in Scotland today, they agreed that climate change does require urgent action. They said they're going to start a dialogue with key developing nations. NPR's Elizabeth Shogren has this report.

ELIZABETH SHOGREN reporting:

The communique was a watered-down version of what the British had hoped to achieve. Rather than calling climate change a threat, it calls it a challenge. Rather than talking about reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, it talks about slowing their growth. This shows the behind-the-scenes work of the United States, the one G8 nation that did not sign the Kyoto global warming protocol and agree to reduce greenhouse gases. Prime Minister Blair said that the G8 achieved his main goals of getting the United States, China and India to admit global warming is a problem that needs urgent attention and to get them to re-engage with the rest of the world to address it.

Prime Minister TONY BLAIR (Great Britain): We have had a situation where for several years there's been a fundamental disagreement in the international community. Now I'm not overselling this. What this is is the possibility of re-establishing a consensus. If we can do that, then when we get to the post-Kyoto period, we could have a genuine consensus that would involve America and the emerging economies.

SHOGREN: Blair said that one accomplishment of the communique is that the G8 leaders and the five developing nations that signed it were each admitting that human activities contribute in large part to global warming. But parts of the communique echoed President Bush's less aggressive climate policy. It calls for scientific justification before stopping and then reversing the growth of greenhouse gases. All the G8 countries besides the US already pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels. Environmental groups said the communique was a failure. Jennifer Morgan of the World Wildlife Fund spoke to us from Scotland, where she was attending the G8.

Ms. JENNIFER MORGAN (World Wildlife Fund): I really don't see anything new in this text, unfortunately. It's just very much status quo.

SHOGREN: The G8 also produced an action plan on global warming and committed to launch its dialogue at a meeting in November. Elizabeth Shogren, NPR News, Washington.

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