Britain drafts law to check climate change
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Britain's government on Tuesday proposed bold new environmental legislation that would set legally binding, long-term limits on carbon emissions — a move it hopes will prompt the US, China and India to follow suit.
The draft climate change bill would be the first legislation in an industrialised country to set such long-range goals, including a carbon budget set every five years that would cap CO2 levels and create an independent body to report on progress. It also set binding targets as far ahead as 2050 for reducing carbon emissions.
"This is a revolutionary step in confronting the threat of climate change," Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters. "It sets an example to the rest of the world."
Britain's political parties have jostled in recent weeks for the "green" vote, seeking to show their environmental credentials in hopes of securing a key battleground in the country's next national election. Both Blair's Labour Party and the opposition Conservatives have seized on the issue, devoting more media time to the ozone layer than to British troops in Iraq.
Stung by ever more bad news in Iraq, Blair's camp has focused increasing attention on issues in which he can seize the initiative — such as the environment. Blair says he plans to step down by September, and a success in brokering a global carbon pact could be seen as a significant closing achievement.
Blair hopes Britain and Germany — which holds both the European Union and the Group of Eight presidencies — can lead work on a new global pact to curb emissions. The next step is getting the US, China and India to make similar commitments, he said.
The bill must be approved by both houses of Parliament to become law. The government hopes it will become law in the first half of next year.
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