Green energy opposition could risk half a million UK jobs


Over half a million new jobs over the next two decades could be at risk from the UK’s opposition to new EU targets for green energy, according to a leaked official report from the European commission.

Since last spring, European countries have been battling over what newclimate change targets should be set to follow the existing ones for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which run out in 2020.

The UK, along with the Czech Republic, is strongly opposed to setting a new renewable energy goal for 2030, favouring an overall target for greenhouse gas emissions instead – which would entail an ambitious cut of 50% on 1990 levels. They want countries to be allowed the freedom to reach the target as they choose to, for example by relying heavily on nuclear power.

Energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey, has said: “We need a technology neutral approach to how individual countries meet their emissions targets … we will therefore oppose a renewable energy target at an EU level as inflexible and unnecessary.”

But a draft report, commissioned by the European commission on the impact of setting different targets and seen by the Guardian, says that including renewable energy and energy efficiency targets in addition to a greenhouse gas emissions target would create around 568,000 more jobs across Europe by 2030 than an emissions one alone. However, the cost of having renewable energy and efficiency targets would be 2.6% higher than with just an emissions target alone, the report notes.

Germany, Denmark, Austria and Finland back a renewable energy target. A new energy efficiency target is considered unlikely.

The wind industry said that not setting a renewable energy target would make it harder for developers to attract investment. Maf Smith, RenewableUK’s deputy chief executive, said: “The EU needs to show leadership here and set a 2030 renewable energy target as a matter of priority. It would send a crucial political signal on the continuing direction of travel away from fossil fuels to clean energy sources across Europe. If the EU were to fail to step up to the mark on this, it would be more difficult for renewable energy developers to attract much needed investment in their projects, as it would push up the cost of raising capital.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The UK’s view is that a single, greenhouse gas target is the most effective way of combatting climate change, keeping energy prices down and strengthening energy security. A binding renewables target would not allow individual countries the flexibility to meet their emissions target.”

Source: The Guardian

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