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Green outcry over government’s energy targets U-turn

Sustainability experts have launched a stinging attack on the Prime Minister

Sustainability experts have launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s alleged decision to lower Britain’s renewable energy target.

Earlier this week the Guardian claimed to have seen a leaked government document spelling out plans to ‘effectively abolish’ its target that 20 per cent of all European energy will come from renewable sources by 2020 ( Labour to ‘effectively abolish’ renewable energy targets ).

The news has been greeted with outrage from Ian May, chief executive of Renewable Energy Systems (RES) Group, who told the AJ that the government was in danger of losing its nerve.

‘The UK has an excellent renewable energy resource and technological know-how, but institutional barriers have limited its development and increased its cost,’ said May.

‘The threat from climate change cannot be overestimated and at the same time our energy security is at risk as the availability of fossil fuel resources lessens and energy demand soars. Given these two huge challenges facing us – the government simply cannot back away from the 20 per cent target,’ he added.

According to the Guardian report, Britain will be working with ‘Poland and other governments sceptical about climate change to “help persuade” German Chancellor Angela Merkel to set lower renewable targets’.

Sheppard Robson’s head of sustainability, Alan Shingler, said the government’s shift was a clear indication that ‘increased nuclear use’ was being considered.

‘This is yet another resource we are depleting,’ Shingler said.

‘We need to think more long term. The statement that the 20 per cent target is expensive and faces practical difficulties is a moot point. We knew and the government knew that it wasn’t going to be easy.

‘It is completely unrealistic for private industry to take up the responsibility – this has to be led from national, governmental policy and a reduction on targets will inevitably lead to a lack of take up,’ Shingler added.

Bill Gething, chair of the RIBA’s sustainability forum, called on the government to have an ‘honest, clear and reasoned debate on the whole nuclear and renewables issue.’

‘They have never been talked about on an equal basis, and stories like these don’t make it any clearer,’ said Gething.

‘If Woking can reduce its carbon emissions by 60 per cent in 10 years, why can’t the government look at the whole array of ways of reducing emissions nationwide?’

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