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Monday, December 1, 1997 Published at 11:02 GMT

UK: Politics

Britain calls on US to do more for climate protection
image: [ One of the aims of the Kyoto summit is to reduce gas emissions such as those from car exhausts ]
One of the aims of the Kyoto summit is to reduce gas emissions such as those from car exhausts

The British Government is calling on the United States to do more to protect the world's environment, on the eve of a crucial climate summit in Japan.

Britain's Environment Minister, Michael Meacher, said he appreciated that the American authorities faced a difficult battle against the country's industrial lobby but believed they could do more.

Key talks on climate change open in Kyoto on Monday when countries will try to agree legally-binding targets on so-called greenhouse gas emissions.

Britain wants carbon dioxide from transport and industry cut by 20% by 2010 because many scientists believe the gas is contributing to a global warming.

The US, which is wedded to the car economy, proposes only to peg its carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels by 2008-12.

[ image: British Environment Minister Michael Meacher]
British Environment Minister Michael Meacher
Mr Meacher told BBC1's Panorama programme, to be broadcast on Monday night in the UK: "We are, in effect, leading the world. We are taking the toughest line over carbon dioxide not because we want to be arrogant or to make a political point, simply because we feel it is necessary.

"They [the United States] certainly ought to be making, in our view, a bigger effort.

"But I do think you have to take into account that in America, as opposed to Europe, there is an extremely hostile political and industrial climate."

Mr Meacher says President Clinton has probably gone as far as he can for the moment.

"I believe that in future years, and indeed I hope at Kyoto, he is going to be pressed to go further, and indeed the whole world is going to have to go further," he said.

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