Brown interview on G8 climate change and growing demand for nuclear to reduce dependence on oil

July 8, 2008 at 2:42 pm | Posted in Climate change, Electric vehicles, Environment, G8, Global warming, Hybrid vehicles, Nuclear power, Oil | 2 Comments
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15:50 – 21:00
Gordon Brown was interviewed on G8 climate change talks in this evening’s Channel 4 news video. Since I cannot remember whether you can access this site from America, I have transcribed the relevant five minute section so you can read Gordon Brown’s emphasis on nuclear—even if you cannot watch his cheesy grin at key moments!  Here’s the link for you to try:

Tue 8 Jul Pt 1: economy, G8, detention

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): “… and new signals on climate emerging from the fog of declarations here: the G8 agreeing to the target of a 50% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050, those cuts to come from: better buildings, an end to standy-by buttons on electrical goods and cleaner cars.

Now this looks like a petrol pump but in fact it’s an electric charger: put this in here and this car will travel for 40 miles once it’s been charged for 15 minutes. A message from the Japanese: “If you don’t like the high price of petrol, invest in alternative technology, and help the planet as well.”

But beyond these displays of greenery, read the fine print. There’s no baseline date from which those emissions cuts can be measured, and the Americans insist there is no deal on cuts unless the rest of the world signs up in Copenhagen next year—Gordon Brown’s talk of a break-through leaving others unconvinced.

Jose Manuel Barroso: “It’s progress. It’s not yet 100% success. It is not yet, of course, agreed complete, let’s say harmonisation, of the targets, but we hope to build that for Copenhagen, next year.” …

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): Well earlier today I caught up with Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister looking decidedly relaxed away from the hurly-burly of Westminster, and I began by asking him about climate change and whether measures like energy efficient cars really would reduce the price of petrol.

Gordon Brown: “Well, there’s two things, first of all. One is we reduce our dependence on oil so the extra demand for oil is met by supply in other areas (17:45) <cheesy grin>like NUCLEAR power</cheesy grin> like wind and wave power, like solar power. And secondly we make the use of oil far more efficient than it’s been in the past, and that’s why people are talking about <cheesy grin>the electric car, they’re talking about the plug-in car</cheesy grin>,  they’re talking about the hybrid car. And I don’t think anymore this is just a dream or something that’s abstract I think that we’re moving towards a situation where there’s going to be mass production of hybrid vehicles and you can see from talking to people that in all continents this new technology which will, if it’s mass produced, lead to economies of scale and get the price down.”

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): “On climate change, haven’t you delivered a classic G8 fudge, where you say you’ll seriously consider a 50% cut in emissions, and indeed adopt them, but as long as the rest of the world does too, so the Americans have an opt out.”

Gordon Brown: “No. Because we’re negotiating an international agreement and it’s right to say that if we do something then we expect other people to do it as well. But this is the first summit, and I’m pleased that it is this summit that has now done so, that is adopted a 50% or at least 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 …”

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): “…as long as everybody else does …”

Gordon Brown: “Yes, but previously other countries in the G8 have blocked it because they didn’t think it was right for them. Now every G8 country wants to do it. I believe there’ll be increasing support round the world and the issue will be when we <cheesy grin>come to Copenhagen next year</cheesy grin> can we get and international agreement, not just for a long-term target but for immediate targets like for 2020 that means we could see big changes in the way we use energy to the <cheesy grin>benefit of households and consumers right across our country.</cheesy grin>”

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): “Can you foresee a situation where the world is peppered with brand new nuclear power stations as a way of combatting the price of oil and indeed climate change?”

Gordon Brown: “You know if you talk to all the countries round the world, then the demand for nuclear power stations to reduce the dependence on oil is growing. So people would expect the proportion of energy coming from nuclear to double over the next 30 or 40 years, and that will mean, as some people have estimated, a thousand nuclear power stations—NEW nuclear power stations—being built around the world, so Britain is LEADING the way, but other countries are certainly following.”

Jonathan Rudman (Channel 4 correspondent): “And finally Prime Minister, you’ve been talking about not wasting food at home, but people are opening their newspapers and seeing you eat anything between 18 and 24 different dishes being on offer here today. A bit regrettable, isn’t it, to say the least, that here you are supping at the top of a mountain when you are telling others to cut back.”

Gordon Brown: <grin> … </grin>



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  1. Cutting C emissions by 50% by 2050 is not news but a repetition of what transpired earlier. In any case, none of us old folks will be around. What matters is today or 5 years from now, not 42 years hence! Or children and grand children will remensisce whether this was all cons or all come true. What about improving mass public transport significantly which will cut total emissions at individual level quite significantly? More meaningful than expensive new breed of cars which are OK for rich people in short term. Besides, is is there not a serious problem with waste disposal when it comes to On food crisis, is it not more meaningful to grow/encourage more food production in the context of rising prices? It will enhance employment and economy all round.

  2. Hello Saravan,

    Thanks for your comment. All good points, I agree.
    50% reductions in CO2 emissions by 2050 is bad news, because the original baseline from which the fifty years were counted has been scrubbed from the G8 statement, implying we start counting 50 years from 2008! That means we have already lost 18 years and have increased the emissions level significantly in that time period. It is hard to imagine how the G8 could make their statement worse.
    We desperately need a new integrated transport policy and alternative infrastructure for the , which includes telecommuting as well as regular commuting.
    Nuclear energy is not without its share of problems, including waste cleanup. (If it were that easy, governments would have taken us nuclear decades ago …)
    In the UK and the US, certainly, we do not need any more food. We just need to eat less and waste less, and recycle the rest.

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