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Sustainable Energy

24 February 2003

Future Beckons

The Sustainable Development Commission has warmly welcomed the publication of the Energy White Paper by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State at the DTI. Speaking earlier at the launch of the Government's Quality of Life Report, Commission
Chairman, Jonathon Porritt had this to say about the White Paper:

'It represents a radical departure from the 'business-as-usual' model of energy
supply and demand, and provides precisely the context we needed in which energy generators, regulators, planners, investors and consumers can all begin to play a more active part in securing a genuinely sustainable energy future here in the UK.'

The Commission has been working closely with DTI and Number 10 to ensure that this timely opportunity was not missed. It identified a number 'success criteria' based on its detailed submissions to the DTI in 2002. Further work will be needed to reinforce many of the White Paper's detailed recommendations, but the Commission
is persuaded that the principles and practice of sustainable development have been properly taken into account in drafting the new strategy.

Reaffirming the Prime Minister's commitment to see carbon dioxide emissions in the UK cut by 60% by 2050, the White Paper endorses the view of the majority of independent commentators that this low-carbon strategy can best be achieved by a
combination of energy efficiency, renewables and Combined Heat and Power. Encouragingly, the DTI has resisted the siren voices of the nuclear industry and the Government's Chief Scientist, and kicked the nuclear option into the long grass for
the definable future. Jonathon Porritt again:

'The Government is to be congratulated on having seized this particular nettle.
Indeed, the White Paper goes a long way to filling the gaps identified in the Sustainable Development Commission's recent audit of the existing Climate Change Programme, though it's clear that specific policies will still need to harden up substantially if the aspirational goal of 20% of our electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020 is to be realized'.

Notes for editors:

1. The Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) is the Government's independent sustainable development advisor, reporting to Tony Blair and the
devolved administration leaders. The Commission's objectives include advocating a compelling vision of a sustainable economy and society, and reviewing how far sustainable development is being achieved in the UK across all sectors.

2. Sustainable development provides a framework for redirecting our economies
to enable everyone to meet their basic needs and improve their quality of life
while ensuring that the natural resources on which they depend are maintained and enhanced, both for their benefit and for that of future generations.

3. The Government's annual report for 2002, Achieving a better quality of life: Review of progress towards sustainable development, is launched today. It will be available on the Government's sustainable development website

4. The report measures progress against 15 sustainable development indicators.
These indicators cover economic output; investment; employment; poverty and social exclusion; education; health; housing; crime; climate change; air quality; road traffic; river water quality; wildlife; land use; waste.

5. On 12 February, the Sustainable Development Commission published an audit of the Government's Climate Change Programme. It concludes that the UK is likely to achieve its Kyoto target for reductions in greenhouse gases as a whole, but
that the measures to achieve the Government's own domestic goal, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2010, are not in place.
Further information about the audit is available at www.sd-commission.org.uk.

6. The Sustainable Development Commission's most recent publication, Agenda:
where next for sustainable development, is available at www.sd-commission.org.uk

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