EU renewables target could make EUETS “redundant”

An EU target for renewable energy could undermine the EU emissions trading scheme (EUETS), and the government should try to weaken commitments, according to a leaked ministerial briefing

A ministerial paper leaked to the Guardian this week set out options to water down an EU-wide target to supply 20% of primary energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020.

The briefing, prepared by the former department of trade and industry (DTI), warns that cutting emissions could make the EUETS “redundant” by reducing demand for allowances from electricity generators, thereby lowering the carbon price.

Suggestions to weaken commitments include allowing investment in renewables outside Europe to count towards the target, allowing low-carbon sources like carbon capture and storage and nuclear power to count towards the target, or converting targets into greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Other options floated include using “statistical interpretations of the target that would make it easier to achieve” or ignoring the target and just relying on the EUETS and existing policies.

In a joint letter to the prime minister, 10 organisations including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF slammed the attempt to “wriggle out” of the commitment and called for an “open and transparent” assessment of the 20% target.

Keith Allott of WWF questioned the DTI’s analysis of the impact of the target on the EUETS. “The whole idea that strong support for renewables will damage the EUETS is half-baked and incoherent,” he said.

He also pointed out that renewables are already factored into allowance allocations. It should be possible to adjust the cap to reflect the growth in renewables and prevent a crash in the carbon market, he said.

Officials say the UK is likely to be set a target of between 9% and 16%. Renewables currently meet under 2% of UK energy demand, while the European average is 7%. The paper claims that meeting even a 9% target would be difficult and cost around £4 billion a year by 2020.

Compliance Search

Discover all ENDS content in one place, including legislation summaries to keep up to date with compliance deadlines

Compliance Deadlines

Plan ahead with our Calendar feature highlighting upcoming compliance deadlines

Most-read articles


Principal Planner

Leeds is a fast growing city and the main driver of a city region with a £64.6 billion economy.

Senior Landscape Architect, National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability (NEAS)

If you’re part of the Environment Agency, you’re part of the solution.

Environment Team Leader

If you want a role that offers variety and challenge, and to be a part of an organisation that has the sustainable management of natural resources at the core of our purpose, we would love to hear from you.

Project Support Officers (Sustainability), National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability (NEAS)

If you’re part of the Environment Agency, you’re part of the solution.

Senior Environmental Project Managers, National Environmental Assessment and Sustainability (NEAS)

If you’re part of the Environment Agency, you’re part of the solution.

Installations Officer - Control of Major Accidents Hazards (COMAH)

We are looking for two enthusiastic professionals to join our North West Hub Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulatory team as Installations Officers.

Installation Officer

If you’re part of the Environment Agency (EA), you’re part of the solution. Working with us means protecting and improving the environment for generations to come, tackling issues of national importance across a huge variety of disciplines.

Sustainable Development Programme Manager

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a driven and motivated individual to join a forward thinking and dynamic Directorate within Public Health Wales.