The UK renewable energy industry has vowed to work with government to shape the policies that will deliver the UK’s share of the EU’s new greenhouse gas target of “at least 40%”, agreed at last week’s European Council.
Action for Renewables, a campaign supported by seven UK green energy trade bodies, said it was pleased that the UK has fought hard for ambitious greenhouse gas targets in a difficult political environment, and that the UK has made progressive proposals for much-needed reform of the EU’s faltering Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS).
However, a spokesman said it was ‘disappointing’ that the pan-EU renewable energy target of “at least 27%” will provide a weaker incentive for renewables than the current Member State level 2020 targets.
According to Action for Renewables, almost all of renewable technologies – across electricity, heat and transport – could be delivering cheaper energy than any other form of low carbon generation by 2030. Several could also become the cheapest forms of energy available and no longer require subsidy, as both renewable and fossil energy sources currently do.
The green industry coalition includes the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association, the British Hydropower Association, British Photovoltaic Association, the Renewable Energy Association, Renewable UK and the Solar Trade Association.
Tony Juniper, Chair of Action for Renewables, said: “Now we have the EU 2030 framework in place it’s time to work on delivery.
“Renewables are the only generation technologies that meet all of the goals we must pursue in parallel. They are genuinely low carbon, improve our energy security and long term bring down costs. Renewables also create jobs and enable ordinary people to invest in energy production.
“The UK is doing good work on pushing forward much-needed reforms to the EU emissions trading scheme. But we now need to build on this good work and unlock the full potential of renewables for transforming our energy system in the 2020s.”
Action for Renewables recommended a 30% 2030 renewable energy target for the UK and reform of the EU ETS as two of its six ‘key tests’ for the next government.
Scotland’s Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: “Scotland has been leading the way with our ambitious climate change targets and it is great to see the EU catching up by reaching an agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Europe by at least 40% by 2030.
“However, it is important that we realise this is just the beginning and there is much still to be done. The EU will need to go beyond 40% as part of an ambitious global treaty in Paris next year that will stand a good chance of limiting global temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius by 2050, and deliver benefits from low carbon jobs, investment, trade and economic growth.”
Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:“ A binding target of 40% emissions reduction is the right result to achieve our energy and climate goals.
“The UK government has worked effectively with other allies to ensure member states have the flexibility to meet it in the way that best suits their own circumstances.
“Now the Commission must get on with the important task of reforming the EU emissions trading system, while making sure that our energy intensive industries get the support they need to maintain their competitiveness.
“This agreement also lays a firm foundation for the climate negotiations next year in Paris, and Europe’s leaders must now work hard towards securing an equally ambitious target from other countries.”
Ocean Energy Europe said that the new EU targets for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency will ‘do little to’ capitalise on the security, employment and export potential of new sectors such ocean renewable energy.
Dr Sian George, Chief Executive, OEE, added: “This decision puts Europe’s future energy security and its position as a global leader in renewable energy and climate action at risk.
“If the EU is serious about tackling big issues such as energy security, unemployment and climate change, it needs to provide industrial leadership on climate and energy by setting hard and fast targets and reduce its exposure to highly volatile fossil fuel imports.
“Europe needs higher targets for renewables – and for energy efficiency. More ambitious goals would bring a broader range of future energy technologies.
Leo Hickman, Chief Adviser, Climate Change, WWF-UK said: “Our leaders have shown that they still lack the ambition to cut emissions at the very time when we should be fully embracing the many benefits that come from moving away from fossil fuels.
“While we recognise that the UK Government fought hard to secure as high an emissions reduction target as was deemed politically possible, scientists are clear that this package is insufficient to avoid dangerous climate change. Agreeing on a 27% energy efficiency target is very disappointing as it is a reduction of the current policy effort in energy efficiency.
“A year out from the signing of a global climate deal, we needed meaningful ambition.
Mark Kenber, Chief Executive, The Climate Group, commented: “We have a deal on the EU 2030 climate and energy package – and that’s a good thing. Europe is the first major economy to agree on its climate targets ahead of the Paris conference in 2015 and its leaders should be commended for that. It gets the ball rolling and paves the way for others to follow suit in the coming months.
“The binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 is an important first step.
“But it won’t allow Europe to reclaim its position as a world climate leader. 40% is still not enough to put the EU on a path to net zero emissions by mid-century and kick start the transformational change we need. 40% must be seen as a floor which opens the door to increased ambition.
“The two other targets are frankly disappointing. With a 27% renewable energy target by 2030, Europe set the bar too low to convince investors to move away from fossil fuels and switch to a low carbon economy.
“The 27% target for energy efficiency improvements, which is only “indicative,” doesn’t send the right signal and won’t convince businesses to make a step change in energy efficiency investment. The review clause by 2020 will be important to revise the ambition upward.”