Blair burnishes UK's green credentials

UK prime minister announces new money for renewable energy, defends Kyoto protocol process

UK prime minister Tony Blair called today for Britain to become a showcase for "duty of care" to the environment but warned that there would be short term pain in achieving long-term sustainable development. This was Mr Blair's second speech on environmental issues in a little over four months (ENDS Daily 24 October 2000), marking preparation for national elections expected this spring, according to most commentators.

The prime minister stressed that global warming predictions could not be ignored and that efforts to protect the global environment had to go beyond implementation of the Kyoto protocol. "Because of our role in the EU and our links to the US", Mr Blair told an invited audience in London, "Britain has a special responsibility. We have invested too much in [Kyoto] to see it fail".

Mr Blair reaffirmed the UK's commitment to reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 (ENDS Daily 17 November 2000). He also promised an additional UK£100m (euros 158m) for supporting renewable energies. The announcement was greeted by Friends of the Earth as a "welcome down payment for green energy".

Highlighting the business opportunities in developing renewables, Mr Blair continued: "The global market for environmental goods and services is projected to rise to UK£440 billion by 2010.... I want Britain to be a leading player in the coming green industrial revolution.... I believe the role of government is to accelerate...these new technologies until self-sustaining markets take over."

In the wake of a string of food scares in Europe, Mr Blair also addressed the need for reform of the EU common agricultural policy towards "sustainable food production". "Other [EU] member states are calling for greater emphasis on environmental good practice, quality food and high standards of care for farm animals," he noted.

Follow Up:
UK prime minister's office, tel: +44 20 79 30 44 33 and Mr Blair's speech; Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, tel: +44 20 74 90 15 55 and press release.

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