Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 6 News List

US must act over climate change: Queen Elizabeth


Queen Elizabeth II has warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair of her grave concerns over the White House's stance on global warming in a rare intervention in world politics.

She is understood to have asked Blair to lobby the US after observing the alarming impact of Britain's changing weather on her estates at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, and Sandringham House, Norfolk. The revelation is a rare glimpse into the mind of the British monarch, who normally strives to stay above politics.

Further evidence of the queen's views on global warming will be seen on Wednesday when she opens one of the most high-profile conferences ever staged in Europe on the issue. She is keen for the move to be interpreted as a symbolic and political statement.

The Berlin summit comes a day after the US presidential elections and its outcome will dictate the tone of key climate talks. US President George W. Bush's administration has remained hostile to international attempts to reduce emissions of climate change gases.

"There has been dialogue between Downing Street and Buckingham Palace on all issues relating to climate change including the US position and the latest science. She is very keen to get involved," said one of the UK's most eminent experts on climate change, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity.

"From her own observations on the climate she has become worried like the rest of us. She has made it clear she wants to raise the importance of the issue," he added.

In addition to her own fieldwork, the queen was inspired by briefing papers supplied by Blair's chief scientist Sir David King -- who has described the threat of climate change as greater than global terrorism -- and John Schellnhuber, research director of the Tyndall Center, where Britain's pioneering work on global warming is conducted.

During this week's conference, Blair will -- via live video-link -- hail a new Anglo-German alliance to persuade other countries, including the US, to reduce the impacts of global warming.

Schellnhuber, who this week will receive an honor from the queen for his work on climate change, added that the identity of the new president of the US, the planet's biggest polluter, would dominate discussions.

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