Brussels commits to Europe-wide target of producing 27% of energy from renewables by 2030, but there will be no binding target for the UK
Europe has committed to cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 and has set a target to produce 27% of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.
However, the new targets agreed by the European Commission last week do not including binding targets for each member state and will only apply at a European-wide level, with the UK government saying that after the existing EU 2020 target of 20% of energy from renewable sources runs out there will be no binding UK renewable energy target.
The UK had argued for a higher 50% carbon emissions cut, but had opposed the imposition of a renewable energy target, with the government arguing that member states should be free to decide how to go about decarbonising their energy network, with the UK keen to keep nuclear, carbon capture or an expansion in the use of gas, through fracking, on the table.
Energy secretary Ed Davey said the European Commission’s proposals, were a “step in the right direction”. “It’s good news that the commission has listened to the UK argument that countries must be allowed to decarbonise in the cheapest way possible,” he said.
“However, the UK remains concerned about any renewables target, especially as the debate within parliament and the British green movement has moved on to technology-neutral options.”
The UK Renewable Energy Association and the Solar Trade Association said they were “disappointed by the lack of ambition for renewable energy” in the Commission’s proposals, saying that binding targets were needed to “send a clear signal to industry of sustained government ambition for renewables”.
“The existing 2020 targets have been key to the recent growth in renewables and have been particularly valuable when negative rhetoric from ministers has damaged market confidence in the UK,” the organisations said in a joint statement.
REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska added: “Binding renewables targets do two things: First, they give a major long-term boost to investor confidence, helping accelerate market growth and technology cost reduction.
“Second, politics frequently trumps economics in the real world, and when politicians go wobbly on renewables, the targets help keep investment flowing”
The policy proposals will now be subject to a review by heads of EU governments, at the European Council summit in March.