PM Theresa May Must Stick to EU 2020 Climate Change Targets

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Solar Panels In Carbondale CO by Dave Dugdale via Flickr

A call has been made today for the new UK Prime Minster, Theresa May, and her cabinet to commit to current EU climate change targets. Regardless of Brexit negotiations, she should commit to reducing carbon emissions and radically transforming energy infrastructure in the UK by 2020.

This is the call made today by 30 environmental and energy-related organisations (see 1.) in a letter (see 2.) to Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Signatories include leading business associations covering the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, two of the UK’s biggest green NGOs and Energy UK, the body representing the major energy suppliers.

Their letter argues that EU laws and regulations on energy and buildings have played a leading role in enabling the UK to reduce its emissions of greenhouse gases and to provide global leadership on climate change (see 3.)

Three EU targets for the year 2020 have paved the way for future emission reductions. The signatories say the UK Government should now declare that it is sticking to these, as it prepares to commence exit negotiations from the union, to give badly-needed confidence to businesses and investors.

The three targets are:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources (under the Renewables Energy Directive).
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less (the Energy Efficiency Directive).
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 and by the end of 2018 for public buildings (the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive).

The letter says that a combination of EU and UK laws, regulations and policies have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK on the path towards a low carbon future.

“Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.”

Dr Joanne Wade, CEO of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, says: “Government must move quickly to confirm it will continue on a clear path to meeting key energy targets.”

The Brexit vote has caused industry uncertainty.

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive of sustainability charity Bioregional, says: “Cutting emissions is the pathway to secure, affordable energy for the UK in the long term as well as tackling climate change. We need a firm commitment to these long-agreed targets for 2020.”

Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association, said: “For the sake of jobs and investor confidence the Government cannot afford to row back on the EU 2020 renewables targets.”

1. The signatories

  • Ashden
  • Association for the Conservation of Energy
  • Bioregional
  • British Blind and Shutter Association
  • British Pump Manufacturers Association
  • British Rigid Urethane Foam Manufacturers Association
  • Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency
  • Centre for Sustainable Energy
  • Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers
  • E3G
  • Energy Saving Trust
  • Energy Systems Trade Association
  • Energy UK
  • Existing Homes Alliance Scotland
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Glass and Glazing Federation
  • Greenpeace
  • Insulated Render and Cladding Association
  • Lighting Industry Association
  • Mineral Wool Manufacturers Association
  • National Energy Foundation
  • National Insulation Association
  • Oil Firing Technical Association
  • Property and Energy Professionals Association
  • Regen SW
  • Renewable Energy Association
  • Solar Trade Association
  • Sustainable Energy Association
  • Thermal Insulation Consortium
  • Town & Country Planning Association

2. Text of the letter

Dear Mr Clark,

We would like to warmly congratulate you on your appointment as the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and wish you well in this important new post.

We welcome the 29 June statement of Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, that the UK government would not step back from international leadership in acting on climate change.

We agree that both the UK and the EU have been world leaders in addressing the enormous challenge posed by climate change. UK leadership has stemmed from the combination of EU and UK laws,  regulations and policies. Together these have given businesses, investors and consumers the confidence to begin putting the UK economy and infrastructure on the path towards a low carbon future.

Following the referendum, it is now critical that Government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK Government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.

In particular, we call upon the Government to commit to hitting 2020 targets under the Renewable Energy Directive, the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive:

  • 15% of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating should come from renewable energy sources
  • UK final energy consumption should fall to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent or less
  • All new buildings must be nearly zero energy buildings by the end of 2020 (by the end of 2018 for public buildings)

These targets make a key contribution towards implementing the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act 2008 – pioneering legislation which requires ever-lower UK emissions in successive five-year carbon budgets. The policies and regulations required to meet these budgets have all been set in the context of EU law and policies on energy and climate.

Yours sincerely,

3. Statistic on greenhouse gases

Between 1990 and 2014, the latest year for which final figures are available, UK territorial emissions of greenhouse gases fell by 35%. Between 2000 and 2014 they fell by 28%.