UK climate watchdog warns against raising renewables targetsUnited Kingdom
Committee on Climate Change urges the coalition to focus on existing targets rather than raising them
The government's climate watchdog today urged the coalition to focus on hitting the UK's renewable energy targets rather than raising them higher.
In a letter to energy secretary Chris Huhne, the Committee on Climate Change said a "step change" was needed for the UK to hit its legally binding EU target of producing 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently the UK sources just 3% of its energy for electricity, heating and transport from renewable sources such as wind power and biofuels.
The Liberal Democrats had promised in their election manifesto to raise the target for renewable electricity by 2020 from the current aim of 30% to 40% – up from the 6.6% generated in 2009. But the chair of the committee, which was created to set and monitor national carbon budgets under the Climate Change Act, warns that the government is already at risk of missing its existing targets. Lord Turner also warns that raising the ambition of the targets "could involve rapidly escalating costs."
The government hopes to hit the 2020 target primarily through offshore and onshore wind, biomass and biogas heating and vehicles powered by biofuels. In the letter, Turner calls on Huhne to clear up "current uncertainties" over the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive, due to launch in April 2011, which will subsidise the generation of green heat. Industry figures fear the RHI could be axed or reduced as part of government spending cuts.
The committee also offers advice on the draft energy national policy statements due from the department of energy and climate change this autumn, telling Huhne that the government must phase out investment in gas power plants that do not capture a percentage of their carbon emissions. Failure to do so, it warns, would threaten the future scope for investment in renewable energy and will mean Britain misses its target of a 80% cut in emissions by 2050. The UK is currently experiencing a "dash for gas" – 24 new gas-powered stations are under construction or in the pipeline.
The letter concludes by reiterating the message of urgency in its progress report in June, which said the UK will miss its carbon targets "unless government takes urgent action" on renewable energy. "A ramping up in the pace of investment is required (around one gigawatt of wind generation was added to the system in 2009, compared to over 3GW required annually by the end of the decade)," Turner wrote today.
In response to the letter, Huhne said: "The UK currently has the third lowest proportion of renewables out of 27 EU states. Unfortunately the Committee on Climate Change have found the legacy inherited by the coalition will make raising the 2020 target unrealistic. The UK is blessed with a wealth of renewable energy resources, both on and off shore, and we are committed to overcoming the real challenges in harnessing them to help secure our future energy supplies and free us from our dependence on fossil fuels."
Mike Childs, Friends of the Earth's head of climate, called on the coalition to take action: "The new government must not dither in making the changes necessary to boost renewable power and energy efficiency. Chris Huhne must immediate confirm that the renewable heat incentive is going ahead, remove barriers to rapid growth in offshore wind and use the forthcoming energy bill to introduce an ambitious programme of home energy efficiency."
El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.
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