Green coalition urges Greg Clark to commit to key EU 2020 energy targets

An alliance of trade bodies, pressure groups and NGOs has called upon the new Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) head to give assurances that the Government will continue to meet European Union (EU) directives and targets until Brexit terms are in place.

A total of 30 organisations including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (FoE) and the Solar Trade Association (STA) welcomed the recent appointment of Greg Clark in a co-signed letter, which urged the Government to commit to hitting 2020 targets under the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

“We agree that both the UK and the EU have been world leaders in addressing the enormous challenge posed by climate change,” the joint statement read. “UK leadership has stemmed from the combination of EU and UK laws, regulations and policies. Together these have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK economy and infrastructure on the path towards a low carbon future.

“Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.”

‘Key contribution’

Specifically, the coalition calls for the Government to achieve three EU-related 2020 energy targets; 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources; UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less; All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020.

The letter continued: “These targets make a key contribution towards implementing the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act 2008 – pioneering legislation which requires ever-lower UK emissions in successive five-year carbon budgets.

“The policies and regulations required to meet these budgets have all been set in the context of EU law and policies on energy and climate.”

Post-Brexit strategy

Defining Britain’s new relationship with the EU in green policy terms will represent one of the hardest challenges that faces Greg Clark in his new role following the abolishment of Government department DECC and the merger of climate change issues into an expanded business ministry.

Calls for the UK to meet the legally bound EU targets reflect a widespread view among environmental groups that the Government must endeavour to restore eroded confidence in the post-Brexit period.

The letter follows on from a pledge from Clark’s predecessor Amber Rudd that the UK would not step back from international leadership in acting on climate change.

The recent approval of the 5th Carbon Budget was well received by the environmental business community as a much needed confidence boost for the green economy, but a general consensus remains that the UK Government and department leaders must reinforce the commitment with a clear, post-Brexit strategy.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has called for stronger Government action in low-carbon heating and transport policy in its latest progress report, following a parliament enquiry which questioned the UK’s progress on its self-imposed targets in these policy areas. 

George Ogleby

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