Darius V. Snieckus
LONDON, June 26 -- The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Monday announced that the Performance and Innovation Unit would undertake a strategic review of the country's longterm energy policy to consider the roles coal, gas, oil, and renewables would play in meeting the UK's future energy supply needs.
Newly appointed Energy Minister Brian Wilson will chair a group leading a review which Blair said would be carried out "within the context of meeting the challenge of global warming, while ensuring reliable and competitive energy supplies" for the UK.
Working with the Department of Trade & Industry, the Treasury, and other government departments "which have a responsibility for or an interest in energy policy," the PUI expects to complete its work by the end of the year, when Wilson will deliver a report to the Prime Minister.
"The aim of the review will be to set out the objectives of energy policy and to develop a strategy that ensures current policy commitments are consistent with longer term goals," said Blair. "The findings will also inform the Government's response to last year's report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution Energy -- the changing climate.
"The work the PIU has already started, on resource productivity and renewable energy, will be an important input into this project," said the Prime Minister. "This review will work closely with the resource productivity team and the main Whitehall departments, as well as business, international institutions, other governments and non-governmental organizations."
"This group has been set a vital task-- identifying the longer term strategic objectives of energy policy for Great Britain," said Wilson. "We will examine all aspects of energy policy, including how we can meet the challenge of global warming. We must also ensure reliable and competitive energy supplies for the next generation."
Wilson stressed that the UK was currently energy self-sufficient at "competitive prices" with diverse sources of supply, adding that the country was on track to meet its Kyoto commitments at the end of the decade.
However, he warned against complacency. "In future we expect to become increasingly dependent on imports of fuel and particularly gas which could eventually become a dominant source of our supplies. And in the longer term, we will need to reduce our carbon emissions further in order to play our part in meeting the challenge of global warming."
On top of the part to be played by coal, gas, oil, and renewables in the UK's future energy balance, Wilson said the review will also need to consider "what, if any, role the nuclear industry should play" in meeting the environmental and security of supply objectives.
"Our energy strategy for the future will need a European and even a global dimension," he said. "Competitive markets will continue to be central to energy policy. The aim of the review will be to define objectives within that framework and to develop a strategy consistent with longer term goals."
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