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MEPs at odds with UK over binding 2030 renewable targets

Green policy news – by GreenWise staff
16th March 2012
MEPs have voted for binding 2030 renewable energy targets, despite efforts by the UK Government to water down the policy.
The European Parliament voted yesterday to support the binding renewable targets. The decision goes against the view held by some European Union countries, including the UK, which want 2030 targets to be 'technology neutral’.

The vote comes ahead of the European Council’s response to European Commission’s Energy Roadmap 2050. In a statement, the European Parliament said it broadly supports the Commission’s roadmap, which sets a policy framework for the European Union to achieve an 80-95 per cent reduction in its CO2 emissions by 2050. 

EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger have asked for a decision on a renewable energy target as early as 2014.

UK position
But the UK believe any new targets should be technology neutral, leaving as it says, "Member States free to determine the most cost effective energy mix to get the best deal for consumers".

In a communication to the Commission it says the "consumer will be best served in the long term through all low carbon energy technologies competing freely to meet our energy needs and emission reduction targets." The Government denies its position means it is cooling its support for renewables.

Renewable industry reaction
The European renewable energy industry welcomed the vote, saying Ministers should take heed. 

"Binding targets for renewables are proven to be effective, and targets for 2030 would continue to drive European industry, boost energy security and are key in tackling climate change," said Stephane Bourgois, regulatory affairs head for the European Wind Energy Association.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the UK’s Renewable Energy Association, said "arguing for a technology-neutral target suggests that Government is only thinking about carbon. 

"This blinkered approach ignores the risks of locking the UK into a future where we forever import our energy. We will be price takers, and more vulnerable as we’re at the end of the pipeline."

The Parliamentary report by Liberal Democrat MEP for North West England Chris Davies was adopted with 398 votes in favour, 132 against and 104 abstentions.

Davies said: "The more we do now the easier it will be in the future. Either we take a lead in promoting a low carbon economy or we get left behind. This is an opportunity to promote investment and stimulate technological innovation. It will leave Europe stronger not weaker."

Yesterday’s vote follows last month’s decision by MEPs to kickstart negotiations on legally binding energy efficiency targets across Europe. 

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