Cameron Says EU Renewables Goal May Cost U.K. Billions

Prime Minister David Cameron urged the European Commission to reject calls for a renewable energy target, saying the proposal would cost British consumers 9 billion pounds ($14.8 billion) a year by 2030.

In a letter to Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Cameron said the U.K. prefers a single target to reduce greenhouse gases instead of a set of three goals, including one for renewables, in the European Union’s new policy framework for the next decade.

“This will reduce unnecessary costs that our embattled energy sector is currently bearing, lowering energy prices across Europe, with consequential benefits to the EU’s growth and competitiveness,” Cameron wrote in the letter dated Dec. 4 and confirmed by an official in his office in London yesterday.

The commission, the EU’s regulatory arm, today is set to outline its recommended strategy for European energy and climate policies through 2030. While the decision on whether to propose an emission-reduction target of 40 percent or 35 percent is yet to be made, an extension of legally binding renewable energy targets for member states has been ruled out, two people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month.

“Failure to include a binding renewable energy target would completely undo the indisputable success of the existing 2020 target,” said Claude Turmes, a Greens group member of the European Parliament. “It’s a sop to those countries like the U.K. and Poland that want to pursue risky or dirty energy from nuclear, coal and shale gas.”

Starting Gun

The statement will be the starting gun for a debate on the EU’s biggest change in energy policies in more than six years. It will pit countries such as Germany and the U.K. that want to step up efforts to protect the atmosphere against Poland and its allies, which are working to cap electricity costs that in some parts of the region are double U.S. levels.

“The voters in many member states will become increasingly resistant to climate targets where they are deemed to be expensive, inflexible and insensitive to national and regional needs,” Cameron wrote. “Our analysis in the U.K. indicates that a renewables target would add up to an additional 9 billion pounds per year to U.K. energy bills in 2030.”

The U.K. wants the EU to reduce greenhouse gases by 40 percent domestically by 2030, with the option of tightening the target to 50 percent should nations worldwide reach an ambitious deal to cut pollution, according to the letter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ewa Krukowska in Brussels at ekrukowska@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Paulsson at lpaulsson@bloomberg.net

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