Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
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UK welcomes EU climate change proposals

UK welcomes EU climate change proposals

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (News Release ref :17/08) issued by The Government News Network on 23 January 2008

The UK today welcomed the European Commission's ambitious proposals for tackling climate change and delivering a low carbon economy in Europe.

The package contains proposals to implement the decisions agreed by EU Heads of State and Government at the 2007 Spring European Council, including a 20 per cent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, increasing to 30 per cent when there is an international climate agreement; 20 per cent of total EU energy consumption to come from renewables by 2020; and measures to support the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) including up to twelve CCS demonstration projects.

The proposals put the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) at the heart of EU climate policy, including establishing an EU-wide central cap on emissions covered by the EU ETS to 2020 and beyond, ensuring both scarcity and certainty, changed from the current system of Member States setting emissions caps for their own economies.

For the UK, the Commission's proposals include:

* A reduction of 16 per cent in UK greenhouse gas emissions from sectors not covered by the EU ETS by 2020 from 2005 levels;

* For 15 per cent of the energy consumed in the UK to come from renewable sources by 2020;

* For 10 per cent of road transport fuels to come from renewable sources, subject to them being produced in a sustainable way.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said that the proposals sent a clear signal to the world that Europe was taking decisive action to fight climate change.

"This plan shows exactly what we are aiming for globally - a comprehensive and effective agreement to tackle climate change, with the carbon market at its heart. With a global deal, the EU will up its commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent by 2020.

"Setting a clear long-term downward trajectory for the emissions cap for the EU ETS gives businesses and the market the certainty they've been looking for.

"I support the clear message from the Commission that there should be much more auctioning in the EU ETS. We would like to see increasing minimum levels of auctioning that allow Member States to set higher levels unilaterally. We will consult on this and the rest of the detail of the EU ETS review in the spring."

"More work must be done in a number of areas, including looking closely at the proposed UK contribution from the whole economy, rather than just the non-traded sector. The UK is determined to play its part in full, but we should ensure that there is collective effort from all Member States to play their part in meeting the EU target."

Business Secretary John Hutton outlined the UK's plans to review its strategy to meet the UK share of the EU renewables target:

"The UK remains committed to meeting its share of the EU renewables target which will be decided in the negotiations ahead, and the Commission's proposals are a welcome starting point for that discussion. Whatever the final outcome, the UK is already scoping a vast expansion of wind energy offshore and tidal power on the Severn, and we are already thoroughly reviewing our strategy to drive progress further.

"Other low carbon technologies must be part of the mix too. The Commission's proposals on removing regulatory barriers to Carbon Capture and Storage are vital. Demonstration of this globally significant technology must happen as soon as possible and I hope that the UK's demonstrator plant, expected to be up and running by 2014, can fully participate in EU initiatives on CCS demonstration.

"This package will show the EU's continuing global leadership on climate change. I want to see it agreed as soon as possible to give business the certainty it needs to plan low carbon investments with confidence."

Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly said:

"This package demonstrates a firm commitment that transport must play its full part in tackling climate change as well as supporting sustainable economic growth. Action to encourage sustainable biofuels is one of a range of measures we are taking in the UK to reduce the impact of transport on the environment, backed by record investment in public transport, walking and cycling.

"I welcome the inclusion in the Commission's proposals of sustainability criteria for biofuels. These are a good starting point for negotiation. The UK has been leading the international drive to make sure the biofuels we use come from sustainable sources and we will be pressing to make sure European biofuels policy also includes strong safeguards to maximise greenhouse gas savings and protect the environment."

Notes to Editors

1. The March 2006 UK Climate Change Programme and the May 2007 Energy White Paper set out the Government's international and domestic strategy for tackling climate change and ensuring supplies of secure, clean and affordable energy. The European Commissions' proposals will help us deliver core aspects of this strategy: delivering a market price for carbon, increasing the share of renewable energy, and significantly increasing the use of low carbon technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

2. The Government's Climate Change Bill, currently before Parliament, sets targets to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 26-32 per cent by 2020 - approximately equivalent to reducing greenhouse gases from the whole economy by 32-37 per cent, which goes beyond the EU's proposals for 2020.

3. The EU ETS has been operating since 1 January 2005, with Phase II beginning on 1 January 2008. It currently covers around 1000 installations in the UK and more than 12 000 across the EU.

4. The draft Renewables Directive provides the framework for achieving the EU's target of securing 20 per cent of all its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and sets out proposed shares for the UK and other Member States to achieve this. The Secretary of State has today laid a written Parliamentary Statement on the Government's approach to the Directive and UK's Renewable Energy Strategy.

5. The Government has already introduced a range of measures to increase the use of renewable energy in the UK. The Planning and Energy Bills currently before Parliament will drive greater and more rapid deployment of renewables in the UK. The Energy Bill also enables investment in CCS.

6. During the second reading debate of the Energy Bill on 22 January, John Hutton also announced the terms of reference for the Severn Tidal Power feasibility study.

7. Renewable energy in transport is mainly in the form of biofuels. From April 2008, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) will require fuel suppliers to ensure that a given proportion of road transport fuel comes from renewable sources (2.5 per cent by volume in 2008-09, rising to 5 per cent from 2010-11). In 2006, it was announced that the level of the RTFO would rise above 5 per cent after 2010-11 subject to various conditions including a requirement that the biofuels should be sustainably produced. The Government has also announced that from 2010-11 rewards from the RTFO should be based on the greenhouse gas savings of the biofuel, and from 2011-12 would be given only for biofuels that meet appropriate sustainability standards.

8. The UK is committed to meeting its fair share of the overall EU renewable energy target. In the summer, the Department for Business and Enterprise will launch a consultation on what more needs to be done to meet the UK's agreed share of the target. A webpage ( on the BERR website is now live and stakeholders can register their interest in being involved in the consultation on the new renewable energy strategy there. We will also consult stakeholders specifically on the EU Renewables Directive.

9. CCS is a type of carbon abatement technology (CAT) in which the carbon in fossil fuels is captured as CO2 either before or after combustion, and committed to long term storage in geological formations. Following the announcement in the 2007 Budget that the Government will fund a commercial-scale CCS demonstration project, the Government launched a competition in November 2007 to select a project to be supported. The Government will provide up to 100 per cent of the additional capital and operating costs incurred by the project developer in successfully demonstrating the technology on a long term commercial scale. The pre-qualifying period for the competition will end in March 2008. Companies that successfully pre-qualify will be invited to take part in the next stages of the competition in April 2008 with the aim of announcing the competition winner by May or June 2009. Link to competition website is

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