Blair softens on mandatory emissions targets and warms to nuclear power

British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s shifting approach to climate change has environmentalists in a stormy mood. Earlier this fall, he hinted publicly that he was cooling his support for extending the Kyoto Protocol’s mandatory greenhouse-gas reduction targets beyond the treaty’s conclusion in 2012. Now his environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, says she too is willing to accept voluntary targets post-Kyoto. Her statement comes just ahead of next week’s climate-change summit in Montreal, and enviros worry it could undermine negotiations there. “Voluntary targets are not worth the paper they are written on,” said Stephen Tindale of Greenpeace U.K. Blair is reportedly also backing accelerated plans to build new nuke plants in Britain within 10 years, much sooner than expected, saying they’re needed to replace energy generation from oil and coal while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Many green activists say that’s bollocks and point to nuclear power’s high cost, dodgy safety record, and production of dangerous waste.