A leaked letter by Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has revealed the UK is likely to miss the European 2020 renewable energy targets by almost a quarter.
In the letter published by the Ecologist magazine, Rudd admits the UK won’t be able to source 15 per cent of its energy for transport, power and heating from renewables by 2020.
Officially, the government claims the country is on track to generate 30 per cent of its power from renewable resources by 2020.
The letter prompted environmental campaigners to blame the situation on the government’s cutting support for renewables. It further suggests that the UK could still meet the targets by buying hydropower from Norway or other EU states. Alternatively, the UK could buy credits from a European country that has exceeded the target.
"I have already raised with the European Commission my concerns about the fact that the Government's changes to energy policy make it unlikely we will meet our renewables target,” said Green MEP Molly Scott Cato.
"The evidence in this letter shows the Secretary of State is aware of this serious situation and I will now be following this up with further questions as a matter of urgency."
According to the annual world energy outlook published by the International Energy Agency, renewable resources such as wind, solar and biomass delivered almost half the world's new power generation in 2014 and are set to become the leading source of new supply between now and 2040.
The clean power technologies are set to overtake coal as the largest source of electricity generation in the 2030s, and by 2040 half of Europe's power will be generated from renewables, about 30 per cent in China and Japan and 25 per cent in the US and India.
The current rate of renewables growth, however, is not enough to slow down the global warming so that it does not exceed 2°C by 2100, a level considered by climatologists to be a limit to prevent devastating consequences.
With the current rate of deployment of renewable resources, it is more likely the warming will reach 2.7° by 2100.
The IEA urged the world’s leaders that are meeting in Paris at the UN Conference on Climate Change later this month to step up efforts to curb emissions in order to achieve the 2°C target.
"As the largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions, the energy sector must be at the heart of global action to tackle climate change,” said IEA’s executive director Fatih Birol.