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Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Prescott accused of 'macho bluster'
John Prescott
Prescott believes Kyoto is the best way forward
The Conservatives have accused John Prescott of "macho man bluster" over his attempts to persuade the US to rethink its policy on climate change.

Shadow environment secretary Archie Norman attacked the deputy prime minister in the Commons on Tuesday for "diplomatic ineptitude" on his visit to America last week.


Diplomatic ineptitude may go down fine in old Labour but it doesn't do much for our relations on climate change

Archie Norman
Shadow environment secretary
President George W Bush angered environmentalists when he appeared to abandon the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

Ministers from the European Union and other parts of the world renewed their support for the Kyoto agreement at a United Nations meeting in New York and Mr Prescott told MPs he hoped progress with the Americans could be made later in the year.

The treaty pledged a 5% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2010.

'Intemperate attack'

Mr Norman contrasted Mr Prescott's failure to hold direct talks with American officials with what he called his "intemperate attack" on the US administration before his departure.

In the Commons exchange, the deputy prime minister accused Mr Norman of believing too many newspaper reports.

But Mr Norman countered: "The Kyoto protocol is now in disarray.

Archie Norman
Norman: Attacked Prescott's diplomacy
"Britain's own carbon emissions are rising and this sort of diplomatic ineptitude may go down fine in old Labour but it doesn't do much for our relations on climate change."

Mr Prescott said he had not met the US administration because "they had made clear they did not know what their policy was".

He would wait until July, when President Bush is expected to be pressed on climate change at two summit meetings in Europe.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook had raised the issue with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mr Prescott told MPs.

'Toxic Texan'

Former Labour minister Nigel Griffiths described President Bush as the "toxic Texan" in highlighting a protest rally against the US decision planned for 5 May.

"It is vital that everyone who cares about the future of the plant does everything possible to get US policy back on track," he said.

Labour MP Jane Griffiths asked Mr Prescott: "Will you join me in hoping that 'the fool on Capitol Hill' changes his ways before it is too late."

US response

The deputy prime minister replied: "I am well aware of the protest to the president's statement on the protocol and I do think there have been a number of measured statements that have come out of the administration since then.

"Since the Americans have asked for a delay until July, we should wait to hear what they have to say."

Plaid Cymru MP Simon Thomas pressed for a boycott of all American products from companies opposed to the agreement.

Mr Prescott told him: "Good luck with your own policy."

The government has ruled out trade sanctions, saying treating the US as a "pariah" would be unproductive.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | UK Politics
Prescott cools row over climate treaty
22 Apr 01 | Americas
EU presses on with Kyoto
21 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Ministers discuss post-Kyoto strategy
19 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Beyond Kyoto's sound and fury
18 Apr 01 | Americas
US urged not to block Kyoto
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