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Welch on renewables deal, UK government told

Where did I put that get-out clause?

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The British government has been advised by the civil service to find a way to get out of renewable energy targets Tony Blair committed to earlier this year.

According to a leaked report, seen by The Guardian newspaper, there is next to no chance the UK will manage to derive 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The report suggests the most optimistic figure for renewable energy is nine per cent.

Currently, just two per cent of our energy needs are met by renewable sources - such as wind, solar, and hydroelectricity. With no change to policy between now and 2020, we'd only manage to hit a paltry five per cent.

Embarrassingly, the EU average is seven per cent, while the Germans have managed to hit 13 per cent, the report says.

The main sticking point seems to be the size of the investment required to reach the target. This looks particularly unappealing when set against the nice easy option of the much-criticised emissions trading scheme.

The report suggests ministers start lobbying other countries, such as France, and to help put pressure on the EU to relax the targets. Germany is not regarded as a likely ally in this cause, since it is already doing rather well on renewables and is keen to extend its commitment even further.

Andrew Simms, director of the New Economics Foundation, told The Guardian that the report reveals a "breathtaking cynicism as they [the civil service] explore every conceivable get-out clause to escape the UK's international commitments".

Meanwhile, The Renewable Energy Association's Philip Wolfe said: "It is lamentable if [instead of working on meeting the targets] we are... investing our intellectual capital in statistical gymnastics to welch on our commitments". ®

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