- Tony Blair warned today that time was "running
to avert the human and economic catastrophe of unchecked climate
- Speaking at a round-table discussion about the
ahead of a speech on the subject this evening, the prime minister described
global warming as a "huge issue" which needed renewed political
will if it was to be tackled.
- Mr Blair is tonight expected to call for a "green
industrial revolution" and promise to use Britain's presidency of
the G8 group of leading industrial nations next year to push for greater
international cooperation to tackle climate change.
- But Mr Blair will not confirm whether the UK government
will expand the use of nuclear power, which many scientists believe is
essential to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
- Questioned about the issue on BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat
programme, he said: "I think there are still major problems [with
nuclear power] ... we have to handle the issues to do with storage and
- "We're not shutting the door on anything but you
have to take account of those realities," he added. "And in the
meantime there are other technologies that we could be using that would
make a significant difference to climate change."
- Mr Blair's speech comes after he was criticised yesterday
by the Conservative leader, Michael Howard, for his failure to persuade
the US to sign up to the Kyoto protocol, which was designed to reduce
- Mr Howard also side-stepped the nuclear issue yesterday;
excluding it from his speech, and replying when challenged about it
that it was a matter for a Conservative government to decide once in
- Scientists are increasingly pushing for the government
to give the go ahead for an expansion in nuclear energy, as the only means
for Britain to meet its Kyoto target to cut greenhouse gas
- A report in today's Times claims that the director of
strategic development at the Department of Trade and Industry's energy
unit, Adrian Gault, has told ministers that nuclear power will have to
provide half of Britain's electricity needs if it is to do so.
- Currently, nuclear power provides only a fifth of
electricity, but the nation's nuclear power plants are ageing and will
be closed down progressively from 2008.
- Earlier today, Mr Blair's official spokesman played down
the DTI advice, describing it as only an option paper, which has not been
seen by ministers.
- Speaking at the round-table discussion, Mr Blair was
pessimistic about the prospects of the US government changing its
- "Let's be absolutely blunt about it: I do not think
the US Senate is going to vote for ratification of Kyoto. It would be nice
if they did, but I can't see it.
- "We have to do two things at the G8 - the first
is an explicit acceptance of the science by all the governments there.
That has not really happened up until now for a very obvious reason,
the next question is: 'Well, what are you going to do about it?'
- "The next thing we need is an agreement on the
to take this forward. That will require an examination of the science and
technologies... step by step so that certain measures are
- This evening, Mr Blair is also expected to focus on the
environmental impact of the expanding airline sector, saying that he wants
to use Britain's presidency of the EU next year to press for the aviation
industry to be brought within the EU's emissions trading scheme.
- And he will say that it is his ambition to use Britain's
G8 presidency to "build a scientific and policy consensus among
around which vigorous global action can be taken".
- The prime minister plans to host a conference on climate
change at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in February
in advance of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in Scotland.
- He will also add that Britain can lead the world in
renewal energies, such a wave and tidal power, bio-energy and hydrogen
- "We need a green industrial revolution for the 21st
century that sustains growth but protects the environment," he is
expected to say.
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