The secretary of state for energy and climate change, Ed Davey, has rejected plans to upgrade the EU's renewable energy target, labelling it “inflexible and unnecessary”.

Although clear that the decarbonsiation of the EU economy is “fundamental to tackling climate change”, Davey wants to scrap plans for a specific renewable target in favour of an emissions reduction target.  

He said: “The UK is a global leader in tackling climate change and we need to maintain the momentum towards a binding global climate agreement 2015. That is why we will argue for an EU wide binding emissions reductions target of 50% by 2030 in the context of an ambitious global climate deal and even a unilateral EU 40% target without a global deal. We will need significant levels of renewable energy and other low carbon technologies to meet such an ambitious 2030 EU emissions target.”

However, the UK has stopped short of endorsing a specific renewables target as it will be at odds with proposed nuclear developments as well as the UK’s recent commitment to gas. Davey explained: “We want to maintain flexibility for Member States in how they meet this ambitious emissions target.

“There are a variety of options to decarbonise any country’s economy. In the UK, our approach is technology neutral and our reforms will rely on the market and competition to determine the low carbon electricity mix. We will therefore oppose a Renewable Energy target at an EU level as inflexible and unnecessary.”

Reacting to the news, REA chief executive, Gaynor Hartnell said: “The UK is facing a looming capacity crunch and needs to get a lot of new power generation on-stream very quickly. Renewables have a key role to play in bridging this energy gap, and also in decarbonising heat and transport to minimise the risks of climate change.

“Government cannot afford to continue sending out these mixed messages to renewables investors, because they will not put money into UK projects and jobs unless it is clear that there is a future for the industry beyond 2020. A 2030 renewables target would go a long way towards rebuilding investor confidence.”