The Department for Energy and Climate Change claims it has not revisited plans to use an EU loophole to avoid fines for missing its 2020 renewable energy targets but not ruled out adopting them in the future.

Reuters reported this morning that the UK government was contemplating using small print embedded within the EU’s binding 2020 targets on renewable energy generation to help avoid possible fines, with the country substantially behind on its own targets less than five years before they come into play.

The plans – dubbed ‘statistical trading’ – would work in a similar fashion to the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme and see the UK effectively purchase renewables generation from other member states that have exceeded their targets. In doing so the UK could avoid fines that could be levied for every day the UK misses its own 15% target.

DECC first discussed the plans two years ago within a consultation document that explored the potential for statistical trading to be used, and speaking to Solar Power Portal a DECC spokeswoman claimed they had not been revisited since.

In its 2013 response to the statistical trading proposal, the department said it “did not believe it was possible” to make plans to engage in the practice. But it left the door open to the idea, saying it needed to “stay open to the fullest possible range of options for meeting the 2020 target” and would keep its position under review.

The spokeswoman said that this remained the department’s current position, but refused to rule out its use in the future.

Alasdair Cameron, renewables and climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said that considering the practice to meet its climate commitments would be “totally ridiculous”.

“In the last few months the government has launched an attack on many of the policies underlying the green economy, while suggesting nothing to replace them, and now it seems we might miss our legally binding targets as a result.

“If David Cameron wants to have any credibility at the UN climate talks in Paris he needs to urgently start proposing a positive decarbonisation plan, based on clean, renewable power,” he said.