THE LABOUR Party‘s general election manifesto is likely to include a pledge to encourage the establishment of more wind farms, reports The Independent.

Private polling carried out by the Labour Party has found that Labour voters, who were unhappy at Prime Minister Tony Blair‘s decision to go to war with Iraq, consider the environment a high priority.

The manifesto pledge is, therefore, a deliberate attempt on behalf of the PM to win back voters who have become disenchanted with the recent performance of the government, The Independent suggests.

In January 2005 Mr Blair will take over the presidency of the G8 group of leading industrialised nations.

The PM is expected to press George Bush to persuade the US congress to sign the Kyoto agreement.

The government will begin to apply pressure this week as Stephen Byers, former cabinet minister, and co-chair of the international task force on climate change arrives in Washington.

Mr Byers will meet the Bush Administration, John Kerry‘s Democratic campaign team, Congressman, business interests and environmental groups.

“The reality is that unless we can get the United States engaged – responsible as it is for a quarter of the world‘s carbon dioxide emissions – then any hopes of tackling global warming will be doomed to failure,” said Mr Byers.

Mr Byers acknowledged that there was a large population in America who believed that agreeing to the Kyoto agreement would adversely affect their way of life.

But he said that climate change was already having an effect on the lives of millions of Americans.

“Time is running out if we are to win this battle against climate change, and we need America to join the international effort,” he said.

Friends of the Earth director, Tony Juniper, welcomed the news that the PM would make climate change and the environment a key priority during his term as president of the G8 group and the EU.

“The Prime Minister must awaken the world to the scale of the problem and say that the time has come for tough decisions and tough action,” said Mr Juniper.

“But the Prime Minister‘s warning will carry greater weight if it is backed by firm action to tackle the problem at home,” he added.

The paper also reports that the Conservative leader, Michael Howard, is to try and seize the initiative on the environment from the PM.

On Mon (Sept 13) Mr Howard accused the PM of not doing enough to tackle climate change and accused him of failing to live up to his own rhetoric.