[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 11:48 GMT
Talks opened on climate change
George Bush and Tony Blair at July's G8 summit in Gleneagles.  Image: Chris Young/H.M. Government via Getty Images
This week's meeting follows on from the July G8 summit in Gleneagles
Energy and environment ministers from 20 nations are holding talks in London on tackling climate change.

The talks' focus will be on curbing climate change through technology, not binding international agreements.

Opening the meeting, UK environment secretary Margaret Beckett said the timetable on climate change was being dictated by nature, not politics.

The two-day meeting brings the G8 group of industrialised countries alongside developing world nations.

"Technology is essential to make the transition to a low-carbon economy and targets...have a vital role to play in driving forward that progress," Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett told delegates.

"There is more evidence that the oceans are warming, that a long-term reduction in arctic ice cover is accelerating and that the strength of hurricanes has increased in the last 30 years," she said.

The discussions follow the climate agreement drawn up at July's G8 summit in Gleneagles, which emphasised the importance of climate-friendly technologies such as clean coal, nuclear power and renewables.

"We face a timetable that is driven by nature, science and by the predicted effect of climate change on our world, not by our own negotiating processes," Mrs Beckett added.

End of Kyoto?

At the weekend, Prime Minister Tony Blair called in a newspaper article for a new international consensus on tackling climate change built around "sound, rational science".

While describing the United Nations as the "only forum in which formal negotiations on future international commitments take place", he has in recent weeks downplayed the impact of the Kyoto Protocol.

Mr Blair has expressed doubts that there will ever be another treaty which sets mandatory, binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions.

Major developing countries such as India and China are also known to be sceptical about a "child-of-Kyoto" deal.

The European Union has been leading discussions with both on transferring clean technology as an alternative way to bring emissions down.

Essential targets

Many opposition politicians and environmental groups are critical of this approach, saying that mandatory targets are the best way forward.

Anti-nuclear protesters project an image reading "80 failures" onto a cooling tower at the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia last month.  Image: AP/CTK/David Veis
Nuclear power - on the agenda as a climate-friendly technology

"Mr Blair cannot claim to take the environment seriously unless he secures an agreement from the G8 that mandatory national targets are essential to progress," said Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Norman Baker.

"It is all very well for the government to trumpet the merits of technology in reducing carbon emissions, but it simply isn't enough; we need robust, measurable targets, not just vague aspirations."

The so-called G20 discussions, hosted by Defra and the DTI - the UK government's environment and industry departments - are one element in what Mr Blair called a "potentially crucial week in the fight against climate change".

UK government agencies will also present details of a number of technological approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Later this week, more than 40 governments will take part alongside business leaders in other London negotiations aimed at improving energy efficiency.

Will technology provide the answer to climate change? Will this be the end of the Kyoto Protocol? Send us your comments

Email address:
Town and Country:
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and cannot guarantee that all emails will be published.

Tony Blair talks about the need to tackle climate change

Xinhua News Agency G20 meeting opens to seek consensus on climate change - 26 hrs ago
Peoples Daily Online G20 meeting opens to seek consensus on climate change - 26 hrs ago
Washington PostBritain calls for global approach to curb pollution - 37 hrs ago
Reuters Britain calls for global approach to curb pollution - 40 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com UK holds energy summit to tackle global warming - 42 hrs ago
* Requires registration
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific