The British Energy Secretary Malcolm Wicks was just interviewed on The World at One, BBC Radio 4, where he failed to deny this morning’s reports that the UK government has privately accepted it will not achieve its carbon emission reduction targets. It is planning to slash its targeted carbon reduction, according to a leaked document, and civil servants have now focused on advising the government how to finagle this change of policy with the public and with the European Union where the targets were agreed.
Wicks said “I am not going to comment on a leaked document in August…” as if that would somehow dismiss the problem. Martha Kearney gave him two opportunities to deny the reports but he failed to do so.
The briefing paper obtained by the Guardian shows that on current policies Britain will have only 5% of its energy from renewables by 2020, a fraction of the EU target of 20%.
Other countries are doing much better. Germany, with a strong system of support for solar, wind and hydro power, has been expanding its use of renewables rapidly and now has 200 times as much installed solar power and 10 times as much wind power as Britain. Many other countries across Europe are also making rapid strides in renewable energy.
So what has gone wrong? We look at the various areas of UK policy on climate change in turn.
The paper admits Britain “has achieved little so far on renewables”. The UK produces only 2% of its overall energy from renewables. Britain has two main policies in this area – the low carbon buildings programme (LCBP) targeted at homes and commercial buildings, and the renewable obligations scheme (RO), which encourages generators to source more power from renewables.
The LCBP provides subsidies for homeowners or businesses installing renewable energy technology such as solar panels, but has been dogged by under funding and policy changes. It has been given only