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UK energy paper to plan ahead half a century

Date: 19-Dec-02
Country: UK

Hewitt said the White Paper, which sets out the government's
legislative plans, will address four main long-term objectives.

The paper will look at the scarcity of energy supply, at environmental
issues such as climate change and will address "economic
competitiveness" to ensure British energy firms can compete against
rivals across the world.

The paper will also seek to ensure that everyone has access to heating
and lighting, which basically entails dealing with the problem of old,
dark, damp houses, Hewitt said. The paper will also look at the role
of nuclear power, she said, without going into details.

The nuclear industry shot to the top of the political agenda earlier
this year when privatised nuclear firm British Energy Plc (BGY.L) went
to the government for a loan to keep it from going bust. A
government-backed restructuring plan is being fiercely contested by
anti-nuclear groups.

"It's really looking 50 years ahead, but particularly 20 years ahead
because that is the timespan one has to look at with energy," Hewitt
told reporters at a lunch event.

In May, the government launched a prolonged consultation process over
its energy strategy with a view to publishing a White Paper. A White
Paper can later be drafted into a bill to pass through parliament into
law.

A government-commissioned report, released in February, said Britain
should raise its target for energy supplied by renewable sources to 20
percent by 2020 but also keep open the option to invest anew in
nuclear power.

Then, Energy minister Brian Wilson signalled support for the
conclusions of the Performance and Innovation Unit, a thinktank set up
by Prime Minister Tony Blair.

That unit suggested that the government should set overall domestic
targets for a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2010 and
a further 20 percent over the following decade.

The government's existing target is for 10 percent of Britain's energy
supplies to come from sources such as wind and solar power by 2010.

Hewitt said the environmental side of the paper would look beyond the
Kyoto protocol "at what our climate change targets ought to be and how
we create an energy policy and market that will actually deliver
on...climate change but other environmental goals too.

The global Kyoto protocol aims to reduce the amount of greenhouse
gases emitted by developed countries by 5.2 percent on 1990 levels by
2008-2012. Under the Kyoto pact, Britain agreed to cut its greenhouse
gases by 12.5 percent in the same period.

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