Ex-Energy Minister attacks 'gas-guzzling' Americans

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The former energy minister Brian Wilson will attack the United States next week for putting "two fingers" up to the rest of the world through its "profligate and irresponsible" consumption of fuel.

The former energy minister Brian Wilson will attack the United States next week for putting "two fingers" up to the rest of the world through its "profligate and irresponsible" consumption of fuel.

Mr Wilson, who left government in 2003 and is retiring from politics at the general election, will tell a conference in Edinburgh that the biggest energy challenge the world faces today is to persuade America to start reducing its own oil consumption as it becomes dependent on imports for the first time.

The former minister will tell the conference, organised by Depletion Scotland, that the "absolute refusal" of the US to adjust its consumption poses the greatest threat to the prospects of an orderly transition from an oil-based economy to a more environmentally friendly one.

"In spite of the most obvious warning of all - namely its own transition from supplier to net importer - [the US] has continued to behave in the most profligate manner imaginable right up until the present day," Mr Wilson will say. "The average American vehicle now has a worse fuel-to-miles ratio than in the early 1980s - which is just about as big a two-fingered gesture to environmental responsibility as it is possible to achieve."

Mr Wilson, a strong advocate of nuclear power, will also call for the UK to adopt a "balanced and, as far as possible, indigenous" energy policy embracing renewables, clean coal and nuclear power as well as gas.

On present trends, 70 per cent of Britain's electricity will come from gas and 90 per cent of that gas will be imported from some of the world's most sensitive areas. Mr Wilson will ask whether it makes sense for a country with a history of self sufficiency in energy to become dependent on imports so quickly and so spectacularly.

Tony Blair is expected to publish a White Paper making the case for a new nuclear programme this year if Labour is re-elected and Mr Wilson has been involved in planning the document. "I don't think it will be specifically about what we do with nuclear but about how we meet our environmental obligations which clearly we aren't going to do on the present evidence," he said yesterday.

Comments