Britain's EU climate change goals a 'challenge'
By Honor Mahony
The UK has admitted it will be a "challenge" to meet ambitious EU renewable energy goals following revelations of an internal report suggesting there was little chance of them being reached.
"It is no secret that these are ambitious targets and it will be a major challenge to meet them, not just for the UK but for all EU states," a government spokeswoman was quoted as saying on Monday (13 August).
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But the spokesman said the country remained "fully committed" to renewable energy.
In March, Britain - along with the 26 other member states - signed up to an overall EU goal to have renewable energy account for 20 percent of energy by the end of the next decade.
But yesterday the Guardian newspaper published details of a leaked report from the former Department of Trade and Industry in which it was admitted that Britain would miss the renewables target by a wide margin under current policies.
The document notes that on current trends, without a policy change, Britain can hope to reach a five percent target by 2020.
At best it could hope to reach a nine percent target by this date using solar, wind and hydro energy.
Officials in the department, recently renamed as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, fear that Britain may be asked to reach a 16 percent target, according to the report.
The report also suggests that UK ministers lobby some EU commissioners or other countries such as France and Germany to get a more flexible interpretation of the target.
The European Commission is currently working out how the 20 percent target should be divided among member states.
More advanced member states - 13 percent of Germany's energy already comes from renewables - will have to reach a target higher than the 20 percent.
Less advanced states will have lower targets - with the aim of bringing the average to 20 percent.
Commenting on the news article, the European Commission said it was confident the UK would meet the targets.
"The UK government has never expressed doubts on the need of or the feasibility of these targets so at this stage we remain confident they will deliver on the commitments they have made, and that they will make when the targets are broken down nationally".
The British revelations, roundly condemned by green groups, are likely to get repeated elsewhere in Europe as member states wait for Brussels to come with the small print of how to reach the ambitious goals.
A similar battle is already being played out in the car industry with the commission currently examining how to divide the burden between manufacturers of large and small car on meeting a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new cars from 2012.