Blair: "Save the planet!"
nobody tell you we missed our Kyoto target, Tony)
Oonagh Blackman Political Editor, In Auckland
TONY Blair yesterday vowed to tackle global warming before he quits No 10 - as it was revealed Britain will miss its Kyoto pledge to slash greenhouse gases.
The Prime Minister warned world leaders have only a year to save the planet from an environmental catastrophe and must agree an urgent plan for climate change.
But he came under fire from green campaigners after the Government admitted its Kyoto target of cutting carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2010was unlikely to be met.
Instead, the PM now expects a reduction of between 15 per cent and 18per cent. A string of "ambitious" measures was also announced, including an emissions cap on industry and improved energy efficiency in the home.
But Greenpeace accused Tony Blair of "fiddling while the world burns" and Friends of the Earth said minister slacked the political will to fight global warming - a pledge contained in Labour's last three election manifestos.
Director Tony Juniper said: "Tough action is needed to tackle climate change but once again the Government has caved in to short-term political pressures and produced a totally inadequate response.
"This pathetic strategy will not deliver the promise to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 per cent by 2010, and will further undermine the Prime Minister's reputation on this issue."
And Greenpeace's Charlie Kronick called the new measures "pitiful" and an "abdication of responsibility".
Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett said she "regretted" the failure to meet the Kyoto promise. She blamed it on high economic growth and rising energy prices.
Ms Beckett insisted the Government had not given up on reaching the target.
But she added: "What we are not able to do is say that we can set out the precise path to it today.
"We can move a very long way towards it, and this is not the last word."
Kyoto was boycotted by the US, China and India, who believed any specific targets to cut emissions would hit economic growth.
Mr Blair, speaking in Auckland, New Zealand, vowed to take action sooner rather than later.
He said: "We cannot afford to wait the five years it took to negotiate Kyoto."
The PM will push George Bush and other leaders to agree a general set of aims to control climate change which will be easier to sign up to than specific targets like Kyoto.
That "will send a clear signal to private industry to start developing cleaner, more efficient fuels".
Mr Blair will use July's G8 summit of richest nations in St Petersburg and a September global warming summit in Mexico to try to get a deal.
But the Government rejected campaigners' calls for legally binding targets to cut emissions.
Downing Street denied caving in to President Bush by opting for a new strategy to replace Kyoto.