Climate deal resistance must be overcome says Blair

Global warming may well present an even greater political challenge than Northern Ireland, according to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"It is right towards the more difficult end of the spectrum," Blair said as he presented a report addressing the economics of climate change on Monday, ahead of a summit of global leaders at the United Nations.

Apart from convincing sceptical governments, Blair identified several other significant challenges including a need to direct resources towards research into both medium and long-term technologies, identify priorities, create viable global funding sources and involve the private sector.

Blair has been a prominent player for some time. As PM, he put the topic at the head of the agenda for the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles and established the 'Breaking the Climate Deadlock' initiative shortly after leaving office. He told the pre-UN meeting that: "Kyoto was a treaty to make a point. Copenhagen is the treaty to make a solution - and that's tough."

The report Blair presented, 'Cutting The Cost', went directly to the source of much resistance during negotiations towards a new treaty on cutting greenhouse gas emissions: the economic cost.

Sponsored by the former PM's own office and The Climate Group, the report concludes that concerted global agreement would not harm global GDP and could lead to uniform growth in both individual national economies and employment.

The numbers appear modest. At best, the world would add a net 10.3 million jobs - of which only 380,000 might be in the EU - and GDP would rise by just 0.8 per cent both globally and in Europe.

But while these numbers will not greatly assist engineering evangelists for a green technology 'boom', they do present an important rebuttal to claims, particularly on the American right, that climate change measures will badly wound more developed economies.

The report also argues that if some major economic blocks do not act while others do, the 'first movers' will in fact gain significant economic advantages.

For example, if the EU fully embraces current targets while the US continues to stand apart, Europe will achieve a 1.4 per cent increase in GDP and add 1.12 million jobs. Meanwhile, US employment will drop by 118,000 and GDP will remain statistically flat.

The report also stresses that these are net figures that do not fully expose some major shifts in employment that the green economy will cause. For example, it notes that the German solar energy industry is already on a growth path that could see it providing jobs comparable in number to the local automotive industry. Major boosts in electricity generation are also likely, it says.

The data in Blair's report is based on the E3MG model developed at the University of Cambridge. Copies can be downloaded at 
http://tonyblairoffice.org/Cutting%20the%20Cost%20-%20The%20Economic%20Benefits%20of%20Collaborative%20Climate%20Action.pdf

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