PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair this week ordered an urgent review of energy policy amid fears that the UK will fail to meet greenhouse gas reduction target while becoming dangerously dependent on imported fuels.
Blair has ordered the government's Performance & Innovation Unit (PIU) to assess options for the UK's energy generating infrastructure to 2050.
Key problems to be addressed are how the UK can meet its Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing greenhouse gases methane, nitrous oxide, sulphur hexafluoride, perfluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons to 12.5% below 1990 levels by 200812. The government has committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2010.
At present replacement of old coal fired and nuclear power stations is mainly by gas or oil burning generating plant, which will see greenhouse gas emissions rise at between 0.1% and 0.3% a year, the PIU reports in a scoping note.
Green pressure group Friends of the Earth (FoE) immediately demanded a government pledge that future energy policy will not result in the construction of new nuclear power plants. Although nuclear power is a 'zero emission' energy source the radiological hazards outweigh any reductions in greenhouse gases, FoE claimed.
The government also fears that UK generators are dangerously reliant on oil and gas imports as extraction from domestic fields dwindles. Blair is worried that the UK will suffer if supplies are cut or prices escalate.
The PIU is due to deliver its report before the end of the year.