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Environment Charities Slam Europe's 'Shocking' And 'Weak' Plans To Deal With Climate Change

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Environment activists have derided "shocking" plans to deal with climate change proposed by the European Commission, calling them weak and unambitious.

The European Commission is to ditch legally-binding renewable energy targets after 2020, a major U-turn. The Commission instead proposed a 27% EU-wide target for energy from renewables and a 40% cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2030.

The UK government has lobbied the EC against any binding renewables target for individual countries, new regulations on shale gas and targets to cut emissions from transport fuels, arguing all drive up prices for consumers.

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Climate activists are angered by the lack of concrete restrictions on fracking

Jason Anderson, of WWF, said it was "dispiriting - an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred," he said.

"I'm sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight.

"It is now up to Member State governments to show the political leadership needed to inspire Europe towards an industrial and economic revolution that will provide for both people and the planet."

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Greenpeace UK Executive Director John Sauven said: “After months of bickering and in-fighting the European commission has produced a set of proposals that will satisfy almost no-one."

The proposals will do "little to tackle climate change" and "leave European consumers hopelessly exposed to rising fossil fuel prices, which is what drove up energy bills in the first place".

He called on Europe's leaders to commit to cutting greenhouse gases by at least 55% by 2030".

“This toothless policy, which involves no legal obligation on member states, has the fingerprints of a UK government in hock to the Big Six energy giants written all over it.

David Cameron now has a clear choice ahead of him. He can go to Brussels and fight for British interests – which means supporting a genuinely binding renewables target that works for our world-class clean energy sector – or he can sacrifice the stability of the climate and the future of British industries in an attempt to buy off his party’s anti-green clique."

Ivan Scrase, RSPB climate campaigner, said: "A 40% greenhouse gas target is not nearly enough, and the 27% renewables target - which comes with an opt out clause - is unambitious.

"On the one hand the UK Government has pushed for an ambitious target on greenhouse gas emissions, while on the other it has undermined progress in Europe on clean energy.

"In particular the UK has pushed for weak regulation of shale gas drilling, which threatens to undermine climate goals.

"And in addition, the UK has blocked introduction of a renewable energy target that is binding on member states for the period after 2020.

"Achieving deep cuts in emissions will be much harder with more fracking and less renewables."

Solar industry body the Solar Trade Association's head of external affairs Leonie Greene said:"It's shocking that the UK Government, one of the poorest performers on renewables in Europe, sought to squash such a valuable target.

"Let's be clear, a target is not the same as public support.

"Solar is likely to need no public support in the next decade, but a target will provide the whole renewables industry with the confidence to invest for strong expansion going forwards.

"Now under this pan-EU target approach, we are likely to see a scenario where countries like Germany that take a long-term perspective continue to strongly back their renewables industry into the next decade, while we fall even further behind."

Friends of the Earth energy campaigner Tony Bosworth criticised the failure of the EU to bring in regulations on fracking.

"The EU's failure to introduce binding regulations for fracking shows a real disregard for the environmental risks faced by communities across Europe.

"The UK Government must take much of the blame for this - it proclaims the benefit of regulation at home but has led the charge against action in Brussels".

But the fracking industry is pleased that no restrictions have been announced, just guidelines for member states.

Marcus Pepperell, spokesperson for Shale Gas Europe said: "The European Commission has sought to strike a balance between Europe's objectives of an environmentally sustainable, affordable and secure energy mix.

"However we will need to see how these guidelines are subsequently applied."

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