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Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Blair's speech to the CBI in which his widely reported remarks about nuclear were made. In fact nuclear only gets mentioned about 2/3rds of the way through & gets 3 paragraphs.
Fourth, we will publish before the summer break, the Energy Review. Essentially the twin pressures of climate change and energy security are raising energy policy to the top of the agenda in the UK and around the world.

Yesterday, I received the first cut of the Review. The facts are stark. By 2025, if current policy is unchanged, there will be a dramatic gap on our targets to reduce CO2 emissions; we will become heavily dependent on gas; and at the same time move from being 80/90%, self-reliant in gas to 80/90% dependent on foreign imports, mostly from the Middle East and Africa and Russia.

These facts put the replacement of nuclear power stations, a big push on renewables and a step-change on energy efficiency, engaging both business and consumers, back on the agenda with a vengeance. If we don't take these long-term decisions now, we will be committing a serious dereliction of our duty to the future of this country.

He doesn't say anything specific about blackouts nor about nuclear being cheaper & specifically calls for a "big push on renewables" so it is not exactly an about turn (where an about turn would be sensible) but still welcome movement. This is somewhat surprising since the rest of the speech is mainly about economics & makes, at the least, all the right noises about economic success.
We had micro change in the 1980's that gave us flexible labour markets; we had macro change with the independence of the Bank of England which gave us economic stability. We have the English language. We have a strong science sector. We are part of the EU and a partner of the US. As the Olympics showed, we are regarded now as a dynamic nation, at ease today with the multicultural and globalised world we live in.

Major British success stories, like pharmaceuticals, aerospace, IT and engineering, are underpinned by scientific knowledge. Indeed, many global businesses, such as IBM, Pfizer and Boeing invest substantial amounts in R&D in the UK - not least because it brings them close to our excellent science base.

Research also creates new businesses. In the past two years 20 spinouts from UK Universities have floated on stock exchanges, raising well over £1 billion alone.

Funding for science has doubled and will over time, treble.

Animal research and testing has played a part in almost every medical breakthrough of the last century, for both humans and animals.

Everything possible is being done to remove the threat from animal rights extremists
An argument at least equally strong for allowing GM research
The point is: whenever we can, we will take - as we did with stem-cell research - the pro-science and business friendly position
That would be good to see.
Sixth, globalisation means that the burden of regulation weighs more heavily than in the past.

Smarter regulation means doing away with regulations that are outdated or inefficient; fewer regulatory bodies; and it means risk-based enforcement by all regulators, not enforcement by rote.

and on glabalisation
a bold WTO deal.

It is possible but to get it everyone must move: Europe on agriculture; the G20 on NAMA; and the US on subsidies. From the discussions I have had with President Bush, President Lula of Brazil and Chancellor Merkel, I think a bold deal is do-able. But it has to be done.

All of this is very good. The only problems are (A) he didn'tstartt supporting this 9 years ago & (B) he has a longtendencyy to act as if it is only important to say things & that makes them automatically done. Still, a very long way ahead of Jack McConnell who repeatedly says growth is his "number one priority" & does absolutely nothing.

It may be that, having failed to make Iraq his legacy, he has decided that a new generation of competitive nuclear & a pro-science policy will be his legacy. Here's hoping.

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