Britain is set to miss its 2020 European renewable energy targets, a parliamentary committee report said on Friday (9 September), setting a poor example for less wealthy countries as the world tries to rein in global warming.
Britain has a target to meet 15% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, but had achieved just over 8% by the end of 2015, according to the report, published today.
“The UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements,” said Angus MacNeil, chair of the cross-party Energy and Climate Change Committee.
Britain’s electricity sector is on course to meet its expected contribution to the target but energy used in transport and for heating homes and buildings is well behind what is needed, the committee report said.
The renewable target is a legally binding commitment set in accordance with the European Commission and the EU member states.
Britain could be fined by the Commission if it misses the target, although Britain’s decision earlier this year to leave the European Union means the status of such targets is unclear.
The renewable energy industry faces a “huge paradox” in the event of Brexit, according to legal experts from a UK-based international law firm. EurActiv’s partner edie.net reports.
However, the lawmakers said a lack of clarity should not deter the country from trying to meet the goal.
“We agreed our 2020 renewable energy targets as part of the EU but they still have many merits, even as the UK Government prepares for Brexit,” MacNeil said.
“If the UK reneges on these targets, it will undermine confidence in the Government’s commitment to clean energy and the climate targets agreed in Paris,” he said. “The Government must recommit to the 2020 targets or, if necessary, set replacement targets to support the longer-term decarbonisation objectives of the Climate Change Act,” he said.
Last year, more than 190 countries agreed at climate talks in Paris to limit increases in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees.
Britain has been seen as a leader in efforts to fight climate change and has a domestic target to cut emissions by 80% compared with 1990 levels by 2050.
The UK government has previously resisted attempts by the Commission to set new renewable energy target within the EU for 2030.
- Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change: Government to miss 2020 renewable energy targets (9 Sept. 2016)