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Last Updated: Friday, 20 October 2006, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Blair urges climate change action
Industrial chimneys
The letter says Europe should develop other energy sources
Tony Blair will later press for urgent action on global warming at a summit of EU leaders in southern Finland.

The meeting will focus on securing stable energy supplies - something Mr Blair will argue is closely linked to climate change.

In a letter published ahead of the summit, the prime minister said Europe must lead the world in changing to a low-carbon economy.

He said the world faced a "catastrophic tipping point" over climate change.

The letter, which was also signed by Dutch PM Jan Peter Balkenende, warned that failure to act would affect economic growth and long-term energy supply and would cause conflict and insecurity.

We have a window of only 10 to 15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing catastrophic tipping points
Joint letter

Energy is top of the agenda for the summit, where the EU leaders will be joined for dinner by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They hope to negotiate better deals for oil and gas companies operating in Russia and better access to the Russian pipeline network.

Mr Blair says it is right to focus on external energy policy but the pace of climate change means the two are linked.

"We have a window of only 10 to 15 years to take the steps we need to avoid crossing catastrophic tipping points," the letter warns.

"These would have serious consequences for our economic growth prospects, the safety of our people and the supply of resources, most notably energy."


Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday that climate change was the most pressing problem for political leaders.

And a plan to cut Europe's energy consumption by 20% before 2020 has been outlined by the European Commission.

No new decisions will come out of the Lahti meeting, but Mr Blair wants an "in-depth debate" at another summit next year.

He also wants progressively tighter limits to be put on total CO2 emissions from industry, and an agreement to invest more in renewable energy technology.

Greenpeace's John Sauven said Mr Blair's record on the climate issue was hypocritical.

"He finally grasps that we don't have long to stop catastrophic climate change but in his decade in power CO2 emissions have gone up in Britain," the campaigner said.

"He says he wants to strengthen the European emissions trading scheme, but last year he was suing Brussels to weaken it. He's done nothing to combat aviation or the trend for gas-guzzling cars."

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