Blair urges common nuclear future
Tony Blair has give the clearest indication yet of his belief in nuclear power to solve the energy needs of the future.Speaking to MEPs at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Blair said that nuclear power was one area "into which we need to be putting future work" in developing a common energy policy.
With no mention of renewable energy in his entire speech, Mr Blair said that as Europe was going to be importing "something like 90% of our oil and gas needs", that it "has to up its game considerably."
Extending his vision for energy and climate change issues to external relations with other countries, Mr Blair said he "would commend to you the coal demonstration plant, with near zero emissions, which we have agreed with China for Europe to build."
Despite Mr Blair's radiating performance, not all MEPs shared his vision.
Jean Lambert, Green MEP for SE England, said she wanted to know what the presidency would do to encourage eco-efficiency projects, and called for renewable energy to get at least as much funding as nuclear.
"We need to link the Lisbon strategy to tackling climate change, and we need to find ways of driving up environmental and labour standards globally," she said.
Further evidence of Blair's nuclear agenda came in a report commissioned by Number 10 and conducted by Dieter Helm of New College, Oxford - European Energy Policy: Securing Supplies and Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change.
This states that Europe's renewable policies have so far focused on wind technology and that the EU should "consider widening the scope of renewables towards a definition that includes a number of emissions-reduction technologies."
It goes on to say: "There is considerable scope for cooperation across the EU in R&D. For some large-scale technologies - like hydrogen, clean coal and nuclear - the economies of scale are likely to be considerable, and the EU is currently at a competitive disadvantage to the US because of its fragmented approach."
In a section entitled "Taking Nuclear Forward on a European basis", the report then envisages the creation of a nuclear task force to identify barriers to nuclear development and to "consider how best to create the conditions which minimise the costs of the inevitable regulatory burden."
Friends of the Earth' climate campaigner Roger Higman told edie that nuclear power is "dirty, dangerous and expensive."
"If Tony Blair is trying to take the lead on climate change with nuclear power, then he has to consider whether he would want Iran, or North Korea, to do the same."
He pointed out that there is still absolutely no way of dealing with the waste produced from nuclear power stations and added that Blair should be referred to a recent quote from Bill Clinton, who said that nuclear power was at best toxic waste, at worst a bomb-making facility.
By David Hopkins.
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