Bush, Blair Deadlocked on Global Warming

By Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 7, 2005; 7:52 a.m.

GLENEAGLES, Scotland, July 7 - President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair failed to reach agreement on international efforts to combat global warming today, as the two leaders declared a shared belief that humans are contributing to rising temperatures but deadlocked over a solution.

On the first full day of meetings between the world's eight major industrial powers that were disrupted by bombings in London, Bush and Blair emerged from breakfast at this highland golf resort to tell reporters that a new international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be at least seven years away.

"We're not going to negotiate some new treaty on climate change" at the economic summit known as the Group of Eight, or G-8, Blair told reporters. "What this is about is seeing whether it will be possible in the future to bring people back into consensus together.

Can we do that? I don't know, but it's important that we at least begin a process of dialogue that allows us to make progress on this."

Blair, the summit's host who is basking in Britain's winning the 2012 Olympics but struggling to win U.S. approval of his international agenda here, lobbied Bush to embrace the mandatory curbs on greenhouse gases contained in the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty on emissions standards that was rejected by Bush and the U.S. Senate. The United States is the only country represented at the summit that did not sign the 1997 Kyoto treaty.

Bush today refused to budge, warning that such mandatory standards could cripple the U.S. economy and prove feckless if big polluters like China and India are not included, which they are not under Kyoto. "I also strongly believe that technologies and the proper use of technologies will enable the world to grow our economies, and at the same time, be wiser about how we protect the environment," Bush said.

If a consensus is not reach by 2012, when the Kyoto agreement expires, "then we've got a real problem for the future," Blair warned. The prime minister's decision to talk about concrete solutions next decade represents a setback to Blair and others who believe scientists warning of a dangerous rise in the earth's temperature are right. Instead, leaders here are putting the finishing touches on a joint statement about the warming climate and the potentially dangerous effect of man-made greenhouse emissions. "There is a consensus we need to move forward together," Bush said.

The meeting brings together the leaders of the Group of Eight -- the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia. China and India, two of the world's emerging economic giants, were involved in climate change talks. The leaders gather here to talk about more than the climate - Iraq and aid to Africa are also high on the agenda of a series of private talks.

Bush said Jim Wolfensohn, special envoy to the Middle East, would brief them on peace talks between Israel and Palestine later today.

Bush, sporting two bandaged fingers from yesterday's bike accident, opened and closed his remarks by poking fun of the spill. "It's a beautiful day for a bike ride," he told reporters.

The president blamed his high speed and wet pavement for the crash that left him with several scrapes and the police officer he ran into with a sore ankle. "We were flying," he said.

"When you ride hard on a mountain bike, sometimes you fall, otherwise you're not riding hard," he said. "At the end of a good hour ride, the pavement was slick and the bike came out from underneath me, just like that person on the Tour de France the other day." Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, said Bush saw his doctor this morning and that the president was fine.

The 59-year-old Bush said the accident reminded him of his limitations and to "act my age."

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