The UK Government wants the EU to commit itself to reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 but said it would oppose any renewables target.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey called for the tough new emissions goal in an effort to tackle climate change by decarbonising the EU economy. He wants Brussels to halve emissions on 1990 levels by 2030 within an international deal or do it alone with a 40% goal if an agreement cannot be struck.
Mr Davey said: “The UK is a global leader in tackling climate change and we need to maintain the momentum towards a binding global climate agreement 2015. That is why we will argue for an EU wide binding emissions reductions target of 50% by 2030 in the context of an ambitious global climate deal and even a unilateral EU 40% target without a global deal. This 2030 target is ambitious but it is achievable and necessary if we are to limit climate change to manageable proportions.”
He added “significant levels” of renewable energy and other low carbon technologies would be needed to meet the emissions target but has, however, rejected future EU renewables goal.
The Energy Secretary continued: “The UK is committed to increasing renewables in our own domestic energy mix. The tripling of support available to low carbon electricity through the £7.6 billion Levy Control Framework provides an immediate boost. And the radical reforms to the Electricity Market set out in the Energy Bill will incentivise renewables to 2020 beyond, building the low-carbon economy we need to compete in the green global race.
“But we want to maintain flexibility for Member States in how they meet this ambitious emissions target. There are a variety of options to decarbonise any country’s economy. In the UK, our approach is technology neutral and our reforms will rely on the market and competition to determine the low carbon electricity mix. We will therefore oppose a Renewable Energy target at an EU level as inflexible and unnecessary.”
The Green Alliance, which campaigns for measures to tackle climate change, welcomed the Government’s announcement.
Chief Executive Matthew Spencer said: “This is very good news for anyone who thinks tackling climate security is too important to be a partisan issue. Both Ed Davey and William Hague should be recognised for their efforts in getting this agreed across Government. They can both now play a critical role in securing a bold European climate action plan for 2030, which will make a global climate deal more likely and help accelerate the growth of the UK’s sizeable green business sector.
“The last European (2020) climate package was central to creating breakthroughs in vehicle efficiency and renewable energy cost reduction and it wouldn’t have happened without UK political leadership.”
Environmental groups and trade bodies, however, disagreed with the Government’s plans to reject any target for renewables.
A spokesperson from Renewable UK said: “If the Government does not send the right signals, then major international companies deciding where to build their big wind turbine factories will go elsewhere. We can’t afford to let this opportunity slip through our fingers. It’s absolutely vital to set targets on emissions and renewables for 2030 as soon as possible. The wind industry urgently needs long-term clarity to attract the billions of pounds of investment to build the massive next round of offshore projects that will create tens of thousands of jobs.”
Ruth Davis, Political Adviser at Greenpeace UK added: “The UK has some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe and a renewables industry with huge potential for growth. An EU target would create a new market for that industry, and in doing so attract vital investment into our economy. In opposing a renewables target, not for the first time, the irrational prejudices of the Tory right seem to have trumped the interests of working people in Britain.”