Government does not have the right policies to meet energy targets – Rudd

The Energy Secretary has admitted the Government does not have the right policies in place to meet some of its EU energy targets.

Speaking yesterday (10 November) in front of the Energy Select Committee, Ms Rudd was quizzed about a leaked letter sent by her to fellow ministers, which suggested the UK was likely to fall short of its EU obligation to get 15% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

The letter reportedly said the UK was on course to achieve around 11.5% of its overall energy – heat, transport and electricity – from renewables by that date.

In front of the committee, Ms Rudd said the Government was on track to meet the sub-target of 30% of electricity from renewables by 2020, and they have already reached the 20% mark.

But she admitted the UK Government was lagging behind on other energy targets, particularly in regard to transport and heat. 

“I am concerned about the work that is being done on transport and on heat to make the additional targets and that is why I have been writing to other ministers in other departments, particularly transport, to urge them to work across government to make sure we do make those targets,” the Energy Secretary told MPs.

“It is my aim that we should make the 2020 target. I recognise that we don’t have the right policies particularly in transport and heat in order to make those 2020 targets, but we have four to five years and I remain committed to making those targets.”

Ms Rudd said she was determined to take action on both heat and transport and also admitted that the prospect of the UK buying renewable energy from European neighbours in order to meet the targets “would be an option”.

“I think it would be a mistake to abandon heat and transport,” she added. “They are part of the mix for a good reason. They also need to make their contribution in terms of renewable targets. I would much rather address the issue of heat and of transport, than just step up the electricity. It’s not the answer just to do more electricity.”

The environmental group Friends of the Earth said the Government could face legal challenges if it fails to meet the energy targets.

“Without serious additional action the UK is on course to miss its legally binding renewable energy targets for 2020 – and recently proposed cuts to support for wind and solar technologies will make matters worse,” said the group’s energy campaigner, Alasdair Cameron.

“We will be writing to the Government to set out our concerns and warn of the potential legal consequences if its renewable energy action plan is inadequate.”

 Jamie Hailstone is a freelance journalist and author, specializing in local government, transport and energy issues