UK leader reawakens environmental challenge

Oct. 24, 2000 (M2 Communications)à‚–Prime Minister Tony Blair today called for a break from the old notion that there must be a trade off between the environment and prosperity.

Urging all sectors of Britain to reawaken the environmental challenge, he made a personal commitment to attend the next Earth Summit, in 2002.

The Prime Minister also announced GBP150 million of New Opportunities Funding (NOF) to help the environment:

  • Supporting renewable energy technology (vital in the move to a low carbon economy), GBP50m from NOF will invest in the development of offshore wind and wood-fired and other energy crop power generation;
  • Helping tackle Britain’s waste mountain, NOF will also invest GBP50m over three years in local arrangements for maximising recycling and composting. To boost public involvement in cutting waste, this funding will help provide kerbside recycling for 700,000 more households;
  • And improving people’s local environments, the NOF will invest GBP50m for projects to improve the quality of life in urban and rural areas.

Speaking in London to the CBI and the Green Alliance, he urged all sectors to work together to harness the power of science and the market to protect the environment and stated:

“I want to push green issues back up the political agenda. Let’s sell the new insight – we can be richer by being greener; and by being greener we will enrich the quality of our lives.”

The Prime Minister confirmed that a new Carbon Trust will shortly be launched to help move the UK towards a competitive low carbon future.

The Trust will spend GBP50m a year developing low carbon technology, partly funded from the Climate Change Levy. Continued close participation of business and the research community will be vital to the Trust’s long term success. The Trust will take the lead on low carbon technology and innovation, putting Britain in the lead internationally.

From April 2001, a Kyoto mechanisms office will also be up and running to help deliver the UK’s climate change objectives, encouraging business to invest in innovative energy saving projects abroad. The new office will provide a one-stop shop to guide companies through international rules; help them turn ideas into activities and access other Government services; and provide the formal approval necessary for projects to go ahead.

As a further world first for Britain, helping link market forces to cutting pollution, a national emissions trading system will be launched next Spring. The scheme has been worked up by the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment, and is based in part on BP’s experience in setting up the world’s first internal global emissions trading system. The early start will help deliver real environmental benefits in the most cost-effective way, putting UK business, City and Government at the forefront of international developments.

Mr Blair also took the opportunity to launch officially the Sustainable Development Commission and revealed he has asked the Performance and Innovation Unit to carry out an in-depth study into renewable energy and environmental efficiency.

Setting out the Government’s green record, he said:

“No other British Government has put the environment at the heart of its policy making across the board – from foreign affairs to the national curriculum – in the way this Government has.

“It is time to re-awaken the environmental challenge as part of the core of British and international politics.”

As part of the energy efficiency measures under the Climate Change Levy the Chancellor provided GBP50m pa to promote and encourage the take up of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The allocations are: GBP13m for DTI renewables, GBP4m for MAFF and energy crops, GBP6m to the Devolved Administrations and GBP27m to accelerate the take up of energy efficient technologies. This will be primarily through the creation of a new body, provisionally known as the Carbon Trust. The Trust will provide impartial advice to non-domestic energy users; manage and develop the Government’s enhanced capital allowances scheme for eligible energy efficiency measures; stimulate and support the take-up of sustainable carbon technologies, processes and products.

The Government has given its full support to early development of a greenhouse gas Emissions Trading scheme in the UK. SR2000 made GBP30m funds available to kick start trading in the UK (PN 491). A consultation document will be published shortly setting out proposals and seeking views.

Details of additional environmental resources as a result of SR2000 are set out in PN 506 (26 July 2000)

The Waste Strategy, published in May, set tough statutory targets for recycling (PN 375). To help develop the market for recycled material the DETR and DTI have launched the Waste and Resources Action Programme to promote sustainable waste management and in particular develop markets for recycled materials. Further information on WRAP is in PN 583 (7 September 2000). As part of the Waste Strategy every local authority should offer doorstep recycling to take advantage of the new markets developed for recycled materials. The Government will also play its direct part in encouraging this market, by trialling purchasing of recycled products and assessing the impact this has in boosting the market.

Full details of the Sustainable Development Commission membership are set out in PN 665 published today.

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