Countries should work together to reach a global agreement at the upcoming Copenhagen climate talks, former British prime minister Tony Blair said in Beijing yesterday.
Kungfu star Jet Li (R) and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair shake hands after their respective non-profit organizations - One Foundation and the Climate Group - sign a strategic cooperation plan on climate change in Beijing, March 25, 2009. [CFP]
"The biggest challenge is how the developed and developing worlds put their efforts together," Blair said.
"My point of view is not to force people to do the impossible but to do the maximum possible in a practical approach, such as technology exchanges and fostering the development of poorer countries."
Putting China under carbon reduction obligations is not realistic at the moment, he said. Instead of blaming one another for not doing enough, countries should strengthen cooperation to address more "practical problems".
For example, deforestation has become the third biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, generating between 15 to 20 percent of the world's total carbon emissions, which is about four times that of the aviation industry.
"So a practical measure would be for the world to work out a plan to deal with deforestation," Blair said.
Governments are obliged to take the initiative in designing policy frameworks, which will provide incentives for the business sector to develop and implement climate-friendly technologies, Blair said.
The financial crisis provides more business opportunities for green industries, as stimulus packages in many countries emphasized clean energy.
"I think China's business sector will play a key role in combating climate change," Blair said.
"And China has already unveiled radical plans to foster renewable energies."
He applauded China's goal of increasing renewable energy use to account for 15 percent of its total energy mix by 2020 and said the world needs to understand how radical the country's measures are.
Faced with the global financial crisis and mounting trade protectionism, Blair also warned the world should be wary of "backdoor" protectionism - for example, using environmental standards as an excuse.
"This will be a most difficult part of discussions (for G20 leaders), but it is very important we take a firm stance against any form of protectionism," Blair said.