Mixed Reactions to Altered Climate Change Targets

Changes to European climate change targets have led to a mixed reaction from businesses and energy industry bodies. The new EU-wide targets require a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and at least 27% of energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2030.

These targets apply to the EU as a whole and individual member states don’t have to set their own targets. However, each country will be expected to say what they can realistically expect to achieve by 2030 and to discuss these figures with the EU. Some bodies, such as the UK Onshore Operators Group, have welcomed the new targets, as they recommend a ‘non-binding set of principles rather than a further directive.

However, UK Energy Minister Ed Davey’s subsequent announcement that the UK won’t have a specific renewable energy target after 2020 has caused dismay within the renewables sector. The UK’s current commitment to generate 15% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020 still stands, but a new target won’t be set after this date.

But according to industry bodies, targets set in the past have been a major factor in driving growth within the sector. The 2020 target in particular was described by the Renewable Energy Association (REA) as ‘…particularly valuable when negative rhetoric from ministers… damaged market confidence in the UK.’ And without any new targets after 2020, the REA and renewable energy companies are worried that investment into green technologies will fall away.

Indeed, investor confidence has already taken a hit, with German firm RWE Npower announcing plans to cut their UK-based renewable investments by 50%. The REA was quick to point out the potential implications of not setting new targets, commenting that: ‘…experience shows that binding renewables targets…give a major long-term boost to investor confidence, helping accelerate market growth and technology-cost reduction (and that)when politicians go wobbly on renewables, the targets help keep investment flowing.'

Wilding says: This short-sighted decision is not only frustrating for the renewables industry but could have serious economic implications for the UK in the future. Let’s hope that, despite this news, the sector continues to attract investment and fulfil its considerable potential.’


Sources: The Guardian and City A.M.