Govt wants aviation excluded from renewables target

Environmentalists have reacted with outrage after it emerged the government wants aviation to be excluded from an EU-wide renewables commitment.

The government has admitted it does not approve of aircraft being subject to the EU’s target of taking 20 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020 because it believes the sector would struggle to meet this goal.

The news was condemned by Friends of the Earth’s (FoE) energy campaigner Robin Webster, who said the government was “acting disgracefully”.

“It must stop attempting to sabotage European renewable energy plans and trying to wriggle out of its promise to deliver 15 per cent of our power from green sources by 2020,” he said.

“EU renewable energy plans are an essential part of its climate change strategy – ignoring aviation would be like going on a calorie-controlled diet but refusing to count calories from chocolate.”

But a spokesperson from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr) said the UK had to meet its renewable energy target “in a credible and cost-effective way”.

“The aviation sector is included in the EU’s emissions trading scheme where it will be required to make significant emissions reductions so it plays its part in tackling climate change,” she said.

“The UK believes the renewables target should apply to sectors where renewable energy can be realistically rolled out within the next 12 years.

“Aviation is already excluded from the ten per cent renewable transport fuel target – which also forms part of this directive – because biofuel technology for aircraft is many years away.”

FoE accuses the government of giving the aviation industry “special treatment”, citing the climate change bill currently going through parliament as an example.

This, they point out, excludes international aviation and shipping from the target it sets.

The Liberal Democrats’ environment spokesperson Steve Webb said the government was “doing all it can” to undermine climate change action.

“The growth in emissions from aviation is one of the biggest threats to the climate, yet ministers seem to be at the beck and call of the aviation industry,” he said.

“Britain has such a poor record on renewables precisely because of a lack of commitment by successive governments. This attempt to weasel out of our obligations under the new renewables target shows that nothing has changed.”