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United Kingdom - June 23

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Don't rely on the boys with the black stuff, Mr Brown

Andrew Rawnsley, UK Observer,
As the Prime Minister visits Saudi Arabia, the lesson of rising oil prices is that green politics matter more than ever
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This morning, Gordon Brown is on a pilgrimage in the direction of Mecca. The Prime Minister is in Jeddah to address a summit of oil producers and consumers, having warned the Saudis and the rest of Opec in advance of the visit that he thinks they are to blame for the stuttering world economy by not pumping enough of the black stuff out of the ground. The visit is richly symbolic of what is happening to the politics of energy and the environment.

... The mailbags and inboxes of Labour MPs are groaning with complaints from their constituents about the price of fuel and the knock-on effect this is having on the cost of food and much else. The average, anxious Labour MP thinks the Prime Minister has much more pressing things to worry about than whether the Earth will be burnt to a crisp in 100 years' time. Never mind saving the planet, say these scared Labour backbenchers, how about saving our skins from the electorate?

... Voices within David Cameron's party [Conservatives] similarly urge him to discard his environmentalism or at least dilute it.

... The government's first response to the surge in oil prices was to engage in rather old and dumb politics. The Prime Minister attacked Opec. The Chancellor declared that the first priority had to be a 'big effort' to 'get oil prices down'.

No, the big effort has to be to adjust to a world in which the price of this finite and dirty resource is going to stay high. The era of cheap and easy oil is over.
(22 June 2008)




Poll: most Britons doubt cause of climate change

Juliette Jowit, UK Observer
The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.

The results have shocked campaigners who hoped that doubts would have been silenced by a report last year by more than 2,500 scientists for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found a 90 per cent chance that humans were the main cause of climate change and warned that drastic action was needed to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The findings come just before the release of the government's long-awaited renewable energy strategy, which aims to cut the UK's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent over the next 12 years.
(22 June 2008)



We must leave the fossil century behind to reach the golden age of renewable energy, Mr Brown

George Monbiot, The Guardian
The past two years have been thrilling and frustrating in equal measure. We have begun to glimpse the green holy grail: reliable renewable electricity. Studies by people as diverse as the German government and the Centre for Alternative Technology have shown how, by diversifying the sources of green energy, by managing demand and using some cunning methods of storage, renewables could supply 80% or even 100% of our electricity without any loss in the continuity of power supplies.

But while this work has been causing ripples among scientists and green campaigners, the government has appeared stuck in the fossil century. As recently as October last year, the business secretary, John Hutton, was secretly lobbying to abandon Britain's target for renewable power supplies.

I have not yet been allowed to see the consultation paper, but the details obtained by the Guardian suggest that the government has at last begun to take renewables seriously. Some of its proposals appear to be radical, innovative and bold.
(21 June 2008)



Wind power to drive green revolution

John Vidal, The Guardian
Until a few months ago it was thought impossible for Britain to approach generating 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020 as required by the EU. But next week the government will lay out an ambitious blueprint for what it says is an achievable energy revolution. It will affect everyone in Britain and raise electricity costs, the government concedes, but may also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide long-term energy security.

As expected, wind power is the key to this "green industrial revolution". The government accepts that to reach the 15% renewable energy target, nearly 35% of all UK electricity will have to be from renewable sources by 2020 - up from less than 5% today.
(21 June 2008)



Revealed: UK's blueprint for a green revolution

John Vidal, Guardian
One in four British homes could be fitted with solar heating equipment and 3,500 wind turbines could be erected across Britain within 12 years as part of a green energy revolution to be proposed by the government next week.

The long-awaited renewable energy strategy, a copy of which has been seen by the Guardian, will say Britain needs to make a £100bn dash to build up its clean power supply if it is to reach its EU-imposed target of producing 15% of the country's energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The UK could cut its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20% and reduce its dependency on oil by 7% within 12 years if it conducts the massive overhaul of energy production and consumption outlined in the strategy document, according to the government.

But at a time of mounting consumer anger over rising fuel prices, it also concedes that greening Britain's power supply will push up energy bills and increase fuel poverty.
(21 June 2008)

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