UK opposition to EU wide green energy target could risk half a million jobs …

January 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

AFP Photo / Adrian Dennis

AFP Photo / Adrian Dennis

A leaked official report from the European Commission says that over half a million jobs could be lost over the next two decades by the UK’s opposition to new EU targets for green energy.

European countries are currently debating over what the new
climate change targets should be for greenhouse gas emissions,
renewable energy and energy efficiency, as the current targets
expire in 2020.

Britain and the Czech Republic are the only countries in the EU
actively opposed to having a renewable energy policy by 2030.

The current set of targets are known as 20-20-20 and set three
key objectives in energy policy by the year 2020. A 20% reduction
in EU greenhouse gases emissions from 1990 levels, raising energy
consumption from renewable resources by 20% and a 20% improvement
in the EU’s energy efficiency.

The UK is arguing that countries should be able to reach
greenhouse gas emission targets however they want to, for example
by relying on nuclear power or carbon capture technology.

But a European commission report seen by the Guardian warns that
creating renewable energy targets across the whole of the EU
could create up to 568,000 jobs by 2030. Germany, Denmark,
Austria and Finland are all said to back a renewable energy
target.

The UK climate secretary Ed Davey has said that individual
countries must adopt a flexible approach in order to meet their
emission targets.

“We need a technology neutral approach to how individual
countries meet their emissions targets. We will therefore oppose
a renewable energy target at an EU level as inflexible and
unnecessary,”
he said in a statement.

His view is backed up by the Department of Energy and Climate
Change.

“The UK’s view is that a single, greenhouse gas target is the
most effective way of combatting climate change, keeping energy
prices down and strengthening energy security. A binding
renewables target would not allow individual countries the
flexibility to meet their emissions target,”
it said in a
statement.

The government’s stance on the issue is supported by all the
major UK political parties. Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MP
who sits on the EU committee on the environment said that
governments shouldn’t adopt a religious commitment to renewable
energy generation.

“Overall, having a renewable energy target is an expensive
way of reducing CO2 emissions, and rules out other long-term
options such as carbon capture and storage. If Europe wants to
reduce emissions at the least significant cost, it needs to be
left to countries to decide how to do it,”
Davies told the
Guardian.

Tom Geartex, the Labour shadow energy minister, said that he was
unconvinced “a 2030 renewables target provides this necessary
optionality, since it overlooks a number of low-carbon but
non-renewable technologies, such as carbon capture and
storage.”

Unsurprisingly, the wind industry said that not having a
renewable energy target would make it harder for developers to
win investment.

“The EU needs to show leadership here and set a 2030
renewable energy target as a matter of priority. It would send a
crucial political signal on the continuing direction of travel
away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources across
Europe,”
Maf Smith, the deputy chief executive of Renewable
UK, said .

The German government has already set a target of 40-45% of its
electricity supply to come from renewable sources by 2025. In
contrast, the UK has one of the lowest shares of energy being
generated by renewable sources of power along with Malta and
Luxembourg

The UK, Poland and Spain are not expected to meet their 2020 EU
renewables target.

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