The British government has found itself in a precarious position
with long-time ally the US over the Kyoto treaty breakdown.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's alleged public U-turn from his
tough stance on the US's decision to pull out of the climate change
protocol has this week reaffirmed theories that PM Tony Blair would
rather remain non-confrontational.
Since US President George W Bush announced his decision to abandon the
Kyoto treaty - designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions - Blair has been
thrown into a high-profile conflict of interest situation.
On one side, enraged environmental groups, public and politicians are
demanding the UK challenges Bush's controversial stand, while on the
other lies a delicate relationship with one of Britain's closest
In the media the Government is keen to be seen taking a tough public
line on Bush's rejection of Kyoto.
DETR spokesman Kevan McClaire said the PR priorities are to 'keep
underlining the Government's commitment to the treaty'.
'It's a case of making sure people understand what's at stake and that
we are at the frontline to push for an international agreement,' he
Environmental groups are calling for the Government to be firmer with
the US. Friends of the Earth (FoE) - which has been avidly protesting
against Bush's climbdown on the UN climate change treaty - is asking the
Government to take a more critical line over the way the US is behaving
and to take a pro-European stance for independent action.
FoE media co-ordinator Ian Willmore said they are targeting the US
Government and anti-Kyoto oil firm Exxon Mobil (Esso in the UK) with
As a PR stunt, the group this week launched an e-mail protest against
Bush's stance designed to flood the White House with enough messages to
crash its server.
Meanwhile, Exxon is facing its hardest PR battle yet. With the public
and media overtly against Exxon's views that the treaty will not reduce
CO2 emissions, the firm has found itself acting as the lone voice in the
Speaking from Exxon's Texas HQ, spokesman Tom Cirigliano said: 'We
realise it's a long road to travel, but we're trying to stick to the
facts, stay unemotional about the issue and try to keep the issue
unpolitical. It's an uphill battle to get our message across.'