Prime Minister hails chance to kick fossil fuel dependency

The current oil shock provides the world with a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to kick its dependence on fossil fuels, according to UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Brown said the economic woes afflicting Britain were caused by fundamental global changes linked to the economic rise of China and India coupled with their increasing demand for food and fuel, and must be dealt with by international action.

He warned against cutting development aid or action to tackle climate change during the current period of economic instability.

And he said it was vital to achieve agreement on a new framework for world trade at a summit later this month to head off a rise in protectionist sentiment.

Talks at the World Trade Organisation are at "a few minutes before midnight" and if agreement cannot be reached at the 21 July summit in Geneva, it may not be attainable for many months, if at all, he warned.

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, Brown acknowledged that voters in the West are anxious about the impact of globalisation on their employment prospects and standard of living, as jobs migrate to emerging giants China and India.

But he insisted: "Our economies are capable of adapting and developing high value-added goods and services. We are capable of competing in an open global economy but it has got to be an inclusive economy and we have got to make sure that we take care of the needs of people being forced to make big changes."

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