Britain Falling Behind On 2020 Renewables Target

European-commission-greenBritain is lagging behind on its commitments to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets, while the European Union overall remains on track.

According to a report by Reuters, other nations identified by the Commission as falling behind are Luxembourg and Ireland.

Targets are set by the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive, introduced in 2009. The United Kingdom is expected to provide 30% electricity, 12% heat, and 10% transport from renewables by 2020.

“This is a wake-up call to our Government, which for the past two years has introduced policy changes that have slowed deployment of renewables in the heat, transport, and power sectors.”

A recent (September 2016) Energy and Climate Change Select Committee report argued that the UK is currently not on track to meet its overall target, and estimated that the country is less than half way towards meeting the 12% heat goal. The amount of renewable fuel in the transport fuel has been capped at 4.75%.

In a stock take on the bloc’s climate targets, due to be published on today (1 February), the European Commission saw renewables accounting for 16.4 percent of overall consumption in 2015.

The Commission said EU nations will have to redouble efforts to meet steeper targets in coming years and were struggling to reduce emissions in the transport sector.

Looking To China

Fearing President Donald Trump will pull the United States out of a global pact to cut emissions, EU officials hope leadership in renewables will help forge ties with China to keep pushing diplomatic efforts to fight climate change.

“Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties … Europe will move ahead with the clean energy transition, and will look to China and many others players to push forward,” Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told Reuters.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association said: “This is a wake-up call to our Government, which for the past two years has introduced policy changes that have slowed deployment of renewables in the heat, transport, and power sectors.

“Our progress towards these targets to date has helped create a multibillion pound industry that in 2014 to 2015 employed nearly 117,000 in the UK.

“While it appears that UK is on track to meet our power targets, we are seriously falling behind in the heat and transport sectors. The Government should take immediate steps to remove the roadblocks to further renewable energy deployment.”

“The Department for Transport should accelerate the timing of the 9.75% of renewables in the fuel mix. Increasing the cap on crops in the production of biofuels, including grasses that help replenish soil health, would make this more achievable.

“In heat, the Government’s recent reform of the Renewable Heat Incentive has stilted the growth of much of the biomass sector.

“Further renewable electricity deployment can help ease the burden on the heat and transport sectors. This can be quickly and cheaply done by re-allowing solar PV and onshore wind to compete in government auctions, and allowing for the further conversion of old coal stations to run on biomass is another affordable, sustainable, and rapid option.

“Maintaining renewables deployment isn’t just about meeting targets. This is about building new industry and positioning Britain as an industrial leader in the 21st century.”

Environmental Standards On UK Post-Brexit

In related news, a leaked report seen by The Guardian suggests MEPs are considering forcing the UK to abide by key green laws under any Brexit deal, according to reports.

The paper suggests the European Parliament would vote against any Brexit deal that would allow Britain to weaken its commitments to cutting pollution or protecting wildlife after it leaves the union, arguing such a deal would threaten the wider European environment.

Under the MEPs’ proposals, Britain could still be subject to a pan-European court that would hold it to account over key green regulations alongside its other commitments under any deal.

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