U.K.’s Davey Urges 40% EU Emissions Target, Shuns Renewable Goal

U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey said he’s against setting numerical targets for the European Union to increase renewable generation while he endorses a more ambitious goal for reducing emissions.

The European Union should target emissions reductions of at least 40 percent by 2030, Davey said today in a blog post on his department’s website. Member states should be allowed to reach that goal by choosing from a mix of generation, including nuclear power and carbon-capture and storage technology along with renewable sources such as wind and biofuel, he said.

“We need a technology-neutral approach to how individual countries meet their emissions targets,” he wrote. “We want to maintain flexibility for member states.”

Europe’s climate and energy policy to 2020 has been key in driving wind and solar plant construction from England to Poland as it seeks to curb emissions while boosting supplies. The bloc’s regulatory arm in March began debate on a framework for renewables, energy efficiency and greenhouse-gas reduction targets for the decade to 2030 and aims to present draft legislation toward the end of this year.

The 27-member bloc should adopt a 50 percent cut in greenhouse gases compared with 1990 levels if nations are able to strike a global emissions deal in 2015 to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Davey said. Existing EU law seeks a 20 percent reduction in emissions by the end of the decade.

Energy Crisis

“These targets are achievable, affordable and necessary if we are to limit climate change to manageable proportions,” Davey said. “Without the EU adopting an ambitious approach, a global deal will be virtually impossible.”

The British government is under pressure to build new power stations as about one-fifth of its capacity is due to be retired in the next decade. Lawmakers are working on an energy bill to spur 110 billion pounds ($166 billion) of low-carbon generation, including new nuclear and gas-fired plants.

The plans have been criticized by analyst Peter Atherton at Liberum Capital Ltd., who wrote last month that the government has “grossly underestimated” what’s needed and has set the country on the path to an energy crisis. The U.K.’s own climate adviser, the Committee on Climate Change, said the lack of 2030 carbon-reduction target for the power sector in the proposals undermines investor confidence.

Environmental group WWF said a target for renewables is vital.

“By providing greater certainty to investors in the EU’s renewables sector, a future renewables target could help reduce the costs of financing renewable-energy projects in the EU,” WWF-U.K. Chief Executive Officer David Nussbaum said in a May 25 statement.

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