Goal posts shift again as Hutton tries to fudge green energy targets

Posted by jossc — 31 March 2008 at 2:55pm - Comments

Lady Vadera addressing the the EU energy ministers meeting

Energy minister John Hutton has been caught trying to sabotage the EU renewable energy targets again. A minister from Hutton's department has been working in Brussels to try and redefine what constitutes 'renewable energy.' After last year's fiasco when Hutton’s department were seen trying to wreck EU renewable targets altogether, now the business minister Lady Vadera has been filmed trying to water them down at an EU energy council meeting.

"This would allow a UK minister to lay the foundation stone of a power station in China and say it counts as our contribution to European renewable energy targets."
John Sauven, director, Greenpeace UK

In her speech she made two astonishing proposals: firstly that renewable projects in other parts of the world which are funded by British investment should be allowed to count towards the UK's renewable targets; and secondly that any CO2 'saved' from new coal-fired stations fitted with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology should also count as renewable energy and go towards the UK's targets.

Both suggestions are frankly preposterous, and clearly indicate that Mr Hutton is keen to avoid his environmental responsibilities - even if that means putting the UK’s international credibility on climate change on the line. It appears that Hutton couldn't care less about locking Britain in to another fifty years of high carbon infrastructure (like coal plants) as long as he can fiddle the figures to make it look as though some action is being taken.

As our director John Sauven pointed out: "This would allow a UK minister to lay the foundation stone of a power station in China and say it counts as our contribution to European renewable energy targets." And Ecotricity head Dale Vince declared that, if true, "this would kill renewable energy in Britain. It makes a mockery of any attempts to address climate change. If it were possible to build projects anywhere in the world where planning is lax, nothing would be done in the UK."

The proposals imply that the John Hutton's department is not serious in its stated aim of increasing the amount of energy generated by renewables from 3 per cent to 15 per cent over the next 12 years, and is instead looking to new generations of coal and nuclear power plants. This is despite the fact that now even nuclear industry bosses admit that renewables and nuclear are mututally exclusive. To quote the chief executive of nuclear utility, EDF, Vincent de Rivaz: "If you provide incentives for renewables ... that will displace the incentives built into the carbon market. In effect, carbon gets cheaper. And if carbon gets cheaper, you depress the returns for all the other low-carbon technologies.”

Watch some of Lady Vadera's speech on the Guardian web site (warning: you'll have to sit through some adverts first).

About Joss

Bass player and backing vox in the four piece beat combo that is the UK Greenpeace Web Experience. In my 6 years here I've worked on almost every campaign and been fascinated by them all to varying degrees. Just now I'm working on Peace and Oceans - which means getting rid of our Trident nuclear weapons system and creating large marine reserves so that marine life can get some protection from overfishing.

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