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Jo'burg World Summit - Porritt on Blair's speech

2 September 2002

Prime Minister makes all the right noises at World Summit

The Prime Minister's World Summit speeches (in Mozambique and Johannesburg)
were welcomed today by Jonathon Porritt, Chairman of the Sustainable
Development Commission.

"After a week of downbeat negotiations in Johannesburg, it's very
encouraging to hear such a ringing endorsement from the Prime
Minister of the critical importance of sustainable development -
simultaneously addressing the problems of poverty, education and
health in developing countries, and the host of global environmental
problems that the world as a whole now confronts.

The Commission is wholly supportive of the robust line that the Prime
Minister has taken on climate change. In a way that defies belief, let
alone science, the combined forces of the United States of America and
OPEC are still trying to persuade the world that climate change is not a
problem. It is. And as the Prime Minister makes very clear, the Kyoto
Protocol is both an irreplaceable foundation to global efforts to address
climate change, and an inadequate one. We will indeed have to go a
great deal further - here in the UK as much as anywhere else.

His full frontal attack on the US position on climate change is very
welcome. It is already clear that the US delegation has come to
Johannesburg with one sole purpose: to block or water down all
international processes on the global environment or poverty alleviation,
including setting targets to promote renewable energy globally and
improved sanitation in developing countries. Such mean-minded
intransigent unilateralism on the part of the world's richest and most
powerful nation really does make one ask who today poses the greatest
threat to the long term security of humankind.

The Prime Minister has demonstrated in his speeches the kind of
leadership that delegates at Johannesburg have been looking for, and
has shown how powerful a concept sustainable development can be in
addressing today's most pressing global challenges.

These specific measures announced today (including a doubling of
funding for the biodiversity grants programme under the Darwin
Initiative, support for UK firms investing in renewable energy schemes in
developing countries, the London Principles to promote more sustainable
investment practices around the world, and commitments to persuade
G8 to make more of a priority of sustainable development), are also
welcome.

These speeches are, of course, only words. To match them, the Prime
Minister will not only need to inspire his fellow world leaders, but settle
down to the task of converting them into reality here in the UK, where
we still have a very long way to go. That will be the acid test of Tony
Blair's personal vision and commitment long after the speeches have
faded from peoples' memory."

Notes for editors:

The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is the Government's independent
sustainable development advisor, reporting to Tony Blair and the devolved
administration leaders. www.sd-commission.gov.uk

SDC's remit is to advocate sustainable development across all sectors in the UK,
review progress towards it, and build consensus on the actions needed for further
progress. SDC is currently working in the areas of climate change, energy policy,
food, health and agriculture, and regeneration.

Sustainable development provides a framework for redirecting our economies to
enable everyone to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life, while
ensuring that the natural resources upon which they depend are maintained and
enhanced, both for their benefit and for that of future generations.

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