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  • Blair underlines role of science and technology

More investment is needed in science and technology to ensure that economic growth can take place without damaging the environment, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday (1 September).

In a speech given in Maputo, Mozambique, Blair said that "economic growth and protecting the environment can be compatible. But we need a step-change in our understanding of the science and technology capable of doing it."

He called on all nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. More research is needed to develop 'clean' forms of energy, he said, to persuade countries to ratify the treaty and to show how business could prosper on the back of good environmental policy.

"It would help enormously in securing support for Kyoto and indeed for the necessary more radical action in climate change, if we had a far clearer and deeper knowledge of how science and technology could help in energy production."

In particular, Blair called for a "systematic attempt" to work out the potential of some of the scientific work being done on fuel cell technology, offshore wind and tidal energy and converting waste into methane. And he called on developing nations to adopt sustainable energy technologies rather than follow in the wasteful footsteps of the developing world.

"We won't solve climate change by being anti-business or anti-science," he added. But he also said that "given the scale of the challenge the investment in research and development for the new and potentially ground-breaking technologies is still tiny."

Blair was speaking at the end of a two-day trip to Mozambique before attending the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

© SciDev.Net 2002

Link to Tony Blair's speech
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