UK’s “Can’t do” attitude to climate change targets

The Guardian revealed today that a secret internal briefing document shows the Government is trying to water down EU targets on renewable power, a move environmental group Friends of the Earth describes as “a betrayal of the British people”.

The EU wants 20% of energy to come from renewable sources, such as wind power, by 2020

Publicly Downing Street describes the targets, which include 20% of all energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, as “ambitious”, with Gordon Brown’s official spokesman commenting that meeting EU-wide targets on renewable energy would be “a major challenge not just for the UK but for the EU.”

Now a leaked document reveals that the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (formerly the Department of Trade and Industry) think the best the UK could hope for is 9%, and suggest that this failure is covered up using “statistical interpretations of the target”. Andrew Sims, director of the New Economics Foundation, said that the briefing “reads like a ‘wriggle and squirm’ paper”. The DBERR said it refused to comment on leaked documents.

Renewable energy sources currently account for only 2% of the UK’s energy sources, a shockingly low figure when compared to Germany’s 13%. Friends of the Earth comment:

“The UK has the best wind and marine resources in Europe – a fantastic potential to produce renewable energy. We are a windy country surrounded by waves and tides. Gordon Brown must personally commit his Government to developing a major new renewables industry. He must back the EU 20 per cent target and instruct his civil servants to find ways of meeting it, not ways of getting out of it. He must copy Germany’s ambition and use of effective policies like feed-in tariffs which have so successfully increased the production of renewable power. And his must reaffirm the UK’s commitment to show leadership on climate change by introducing a strong climate change bill.”