Friday, June 27, 2008

UK launches £100B green revolution


British Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not shy away from transformative language when he said yesterday that “business as usual” would not achieve the “green revolution” the UK must undertake. The EU has set a target for 15 percent of the country’s energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020. Brown said the endeavor will require £100 billion ($199 billion) in private investment, which would be facilitated by new government incentives.

“This is a green revolution in the making,” Brown said, as the Guardian reports. “It will be a tenfold increase on our current deployment of renewables, and a 300 percent increase on our existing plans: the most dramatic change in our energy policy since the advent of nuclear power.”

The plan would include thousands of wind turbines, a sweeping set of efficiency standards and lifestyle changes for the average British citizen. Brown estimates the revolution would create some 160,000 green jobs and much of the cost would be put right back into the domestic economy, spurring cleantech growth all over the British Isles.

But the longer we wait, the more expensive it will get. Lord Stern of Brentford, who issued a report in 2006 saying it would take 1 percent of the global GDP to take on global warming, doubled his estimate to 2 percent. Speaking yesterday at the launch of the Carbon Rating Agency, Stern said: “All this depends on good policy and well functioning [carbon] markets.”

Critics say Brown’s words are just that - words. He’ll need to move quickly to shift the nation’s approach to renewable energy to catch up with the rest of Western Europe. Details of how the government would support the nine-digit private investment will come from the British business secretary, John Hutton. And a more robust carbon market, which Stern calls essential, was not mentioned.

We’ve heard strong language from world leaders before. President Bush, who said in his 2006 State of the Union Address that the United States is “addicted to oil,” has come under heavy attack recently in light of his call to lift the ban on offshore drilling, a “solution” critics are calling “get more addicted to oil.

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