Alexa

British prime minister suggests world trade and climate control deals within reach

British prime minister suggests world trade and climate control deals within reach

An international trade deal and a new pact to combat climate change were within reach of a world ready to act in unison to address common concerns, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Saturday.
But he warned of an "urgency" in acting in concert to better the world, invoking a counter-ideology "based on a total perversion of Islam" ready to exploit "the injustice, poverty and alienation felt by many whose lifestyles are a world away from ours."
"Think of failure and who will weep and rejoice," he said. "Then let us agree. Then let us act."
Blair, who spoke at this year's meeting of the World Economic Forum, also called for reforms of major international institutions, arguing for U.N. Security Council expansion and for merging the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
A Security Council "without Germany, Japan, Brazil or India, to say nothing of any African or Muslim nation, will in time, not merely lose legitimacy in the eyes of the world, but seriously inhibit effective action," he said.
"Likewise with reform within the U.N. _ greater power to the secretary general, merging agencies ... reform has to happen."
But much of Blair's focus was on world trade and climate change _ two key issues at this year's meeting of the Davos gathering of world political and business leaders _ and his comments in the final full session of the five-day meeting sought to cast the future on those themes in a positive light.
"I think it is now more likely than not ... that we will reach a (trade) deal within the next few months," he said, speaking of an "increased recognition of the dire consequences of failure."
His upbeat comments contrasted sharply with the pessimism generated by the collapse of the latest round of world trade talks last year and concerns that emission and other environmental targets outlined by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on combating climate change were ignored or not being met.
Reflecting differences over trade, a meeting of the world's top commercial powers on the sidelines of the Davos conference ended Saturday with only a vague pledge of commitment to global trade liberalization efforts.
The meeting in the Swiss Alps was the first joint attempt by trade and foreign ministers to revive the talks since efforts to clear barriers to trade in farm goods and manufactured products acrimoniously collapsed last summer.
But on Saturday, representatives of the United States, the European Union, India, Brazil and almost two dozen other countries parted with no public agreement other than a statement expressing "a strong wish for quick resumption of full-scale activity."
On the Kyoto Protocol, Blair said that _ under Germany's presidency of the G-8 group of industrialized countries _ chances are growing of setting out the principles of a pact combatting climate change "which is more radical than Kyoto and more comprehensive _ one, which this time, includes all the major countries of the world."
Washington's refusal to ratify the Kyoto pact weakened it from the outset because the United States is the world's worst emission offender _ its tailpipes and smokestacks are responsible for one-quarter of the world's greenhouse gases.
Failure of other countries that ratified it to meet agreed on targets have added to further international disillusionment over its efficiency.
Blair pointed out that even if Britain reduced its emissions to zero _ shutting down its economy in full _ it would have only a marginal effect on reducing global emissions. He said therefore that big countries like China and the United States have to cooperate or the effort would fail.
He singled out the United States for praise, noting the "quantum shift" reflected in U.S. President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech Tuesday, which "set the first U.S. targets for a reduction in petrol consumption."
Progress in Africa _ on fighting HIV/AIDS, US$100 billion of debt forgiveness, reducing warfare and growing democracy _ also reflects the growing recognition that "nations _ even the most great _ are realizing that they cannot pursue their narrow national interests without invoking broader global values," Blair said.


Updated : 2020-12-02 05:02 GMT+08:00