Blair Urges Moscow to Play by Energy Rules

Britain's Prime Minister says Russia should agree to the international energy charter and its rules on supply because that's best for the Russian economy

Russia should play by the same rules in energy supplies as Europe and the US so as to gain trust on the international scene, UK prime minister Tony Blair has said.

Speaking to deputies in the British parliament in the follow-up to last week's EU energy and climate change summit, Mr Blair said one of the main reasons why Europe has been busy setting out its new energy policies is Moscow's behaviour.

Russia sparked concerns after it cut gas and oil supplies to Europe in 2006 and this year due to its bilateral rifts with transit countries for energy exports - Ukraine and Belarus.

The EU criticised Moscow's move to cut supplies unilaterally without any warning to its major business partners. The bloc is also frustrated by Russia's persistent reluctance to agree to the international Energy charter which would allow the liberalisation of Russia's energy markets.

"I hope that in the end Russia understands...that its best prospect of playing its full part in the international community and certainly its best opportunity to be a strong economy, is if it plays by the same rules as everybody else, or certainly everybody else in Europe and with America, too," said Mr Blair, AFP reported.

Meanwhile, following the EU agreement on binding targets for carbon dioxide emissions and renewable sources (see, 2/1/07, "Ethanol: Too Much Hype—and Corn"), the British government is set to unveil a climate change bill - the world's first of a kind - enabling the country's shift to low-carbon energy.

The new legislation will aim to cut the UK's CO2 emissions by 60 percent by the year 2050 which would see a special carbon budget set every five years which ministers would manage "with the same prudence and discipline" as economic budgets, said the UK finance minister Gordon Brown, according to the BBC.

Some opposition deputies would prefer annual targets instead of a long term plan but the environment minister David Miliband has rejected such calls, arguing "Changing your policy on the basis of one year's weather isn't a sensible way of doing things."

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