Leaked documents reveal Blair's global warming betrayal

Feature story - February 3, 2005
LONDON, United Kingdom — Greenpeace accused Tony Blair of a 'betrayal' after leaked documents revealed the Prime Minister was boasting about global warming commitments in keynote speeches while his government was simultaneously trying to ditch them at European meetings.

Tony Blair

The documents, which can be downloaded here, show that the British government attempted to remove a commitment for huge cuts in greenhouse gases by 2050 from an EU council document setting out European climate policy.

Mr Blair has made no secret of his desire to get the US to join a climate agreement while he holds the EU and G8 presidencies. But rather than trying to strengthen the American position, today's revelations reveal Mr Blair has instead been trying to weaken the progressive European position.

The documents reveal that the British government tried to have the 2050 commitments deleted from the key European text at meetings between September and December 2004. At the same time the Prime Minister was making a series of speeches and comments urging action on global warming, including calling for the same sweeping long-term emissions cuts that his representatives were trying to ditch in Brussels.

Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace, said:

"Blair is selling-out on one of his two great international themes in an effort to appease his friend in the White House. He thinks that getting the US to sign-up at any cost can be spun as an historic achievement, but it's classic Blair - appearance trumping substance. He's undermining the progressive position of the EU and reneging on promises he simultaneously boasts about. This is a betrayal of trust on an issue he claims to be passionate about. Just as over Iraq, his behaviour towards Bush is so craven it would make a lapdog blush."

The Prime Minister has said that development and climate change will be at the centre of his foreign policy agenda this year. In a much-trailed September speech he said timely action to cut C02 emissions is essential to 'avert disaster.' Greenpeace supported the government's climate policy until November 2004, when the organisation concluded that Mr Blair was no longer sufficiently committed to cutting domestic emissions. Now his credibility on international action is seriously compromised.

Stephen Tindale continued:

"Any agreement signed by Bush wouldn't be worth the paper it was written on. Instead of kow-towing to the flat-earthers in the White House, the British government should be leading European action and forging alliances with major players like India, China and Brazil, and with the increasing number of US states which are implementing progressive climate policies. As it is, Britain is once again dancing to a White House tune."


Referring to the commitment to slash CO2 emissions by 2050 the Prime Minister said in his September speech: "We are committed to this change." And yet his government was simultaneously trying to ditch the commitment in Europe.

Download the leaked document as a pdf here. Effort to ditch commitments are detailed in footnotes 5 and 8 of the document.