Leaked documents reveal ministers want to lower the target for 20% of European energy to come from renewable sources

Labour ministers are planning a U-turn on climate change policy that will see renewable energy targets effectively abandoned, The Guardian has reported, citing leaked documents.

According to the papers, Gordon Brown will today be advised that the target Tony Blair signed up to this year for 20% of all European energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 is expensive and faces “severe practical difficulties”, The Guardian reported.

The documents show that secretary of state for business John Hutton will urge Mr Brown to work with Poland and other governments sceptical about climate change to persuade German chancellor Angela Merkel and others to set lower renewable targets before binding commitments are framed in December.

It is believed Mr Hutton will tell the Prime Minister practical difficulties with meeting the target include persuading the Ministry of Defence and shipping industry to accept more offshore wind power as well as research and development costs.

The news came as scientists announced carbon was accumulating in the atmosphere much more quickly than expected. The Global Carbon Project said the sudden increase was due to Chinese coal-burning and the diminishing ability of oceans and forests to soak up carbon dioxide.