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World: Schroeder, Blair Link Oil Dependence, Vulnerability To Terrorism

3 June 2004 -- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and British Prime Minister Tony Blair today warned that dependence on oil makes the world more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

Schroeder, speaking on the third day of an international conference in Bonn to promote the use of renewable energy, said it was crucial for the world to diversify its energy sources. He said events such as a recent terrorist hostage taking in Saudi Arabia highlight the world's dangerous dependence on oil.

"This one-sided dependence of the global economy on oil enormously raises our vulnerability to all forms of terrorism," Schroeder said. "The decision to [use more] renewable energy resources is not only sensible from an economic standpoint, it's also a [decision] for greater security in the world in which we live."

Oil prices have risen recently amid concern that war or a terrorist attack in the Gulf could disrupt supplies. Prices earlier this week touched record highs following the hostage taking last weekend on foreign oil workers in Saudi Arabia.
Both Schroeder and Blair welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement that Moscow now favors ratifying the Kyoto Protocol.

Schroeder said the relatively high price of oil illustrates an urgent need to develop renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, hydropower, and bio-energy.

Earlier, British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the conference via a video address. He too highlighted the security benefit of using more renewable energy and less imported oil.

"The environmental benefits offered by renewables are not the only reason that I see this conference as so important," Blair said. "Increasingly, we are concerned about the security of our energy supplies. Promoting the growth of renewables and energy efficiency provides us with the means of tackling this issue as well."

Schroeder, in his address, pointed to Germany's achievements in developing renewable energy sources, which he said helped the country reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 percent. These gases, such as carbon dioxide, are suspected of contributing to global warming.

In his video address, Blair pointed to the importance of renewable energy sources in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide.

"I think long-term it is probably the single most important issue we face as a global community," Blair said. "It has major implications for global stability and prosperity. The United Kingdom has taken a leading role in tackling climate change. Our recent energy white paper puts the U.K. on a path to a 60 percent reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions by the year 2050, and we're also committed to a target to generate 10 percent of our electricity from renewables by 2010 and we're aspiring to double that by 2020."

Both Schroeder and Blair emphasized the importance of the Kyoto Protocol, the main international agreement designed to limit emissions and tackle climate change. They welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin's announcement last month that Moscow had changed its position and favored ratifying the Kyoto agreement.

"Our two countries [Britain and Germany] also remain firmly committed to the Kyoto Protocol, which is an essential first step in the global effort to tackle climate change," Blair said. "In this regard, I welcome [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin's recent statement that he wants to accelerate movement towards Russian ratification of Kyoto and I hope that we'll see the Kyoto Protocol enter into force soon."

Without U.S. participation in Kyoto, Russia's ratification of the protocol is crucial for the agreement to come into force.

Schroeder, too, welcomed Putin's apparent change of heart, but expressed hope others would follow suit -- a likely reference to the United States.

"[It] is clear that in order to make [our gains] lasting, the Kyoto Protocol must be put into law," Schroeder said. "Therefore I hope that not only Russia, but other countries will soon ratify the protocol."

The Bonn conference ends on 4 June.