Top environmentalist claims EU 2020 push fed Brexit

A leading peer and environmental lobbyist says some blame for Britain’s withdrawal from Europe lies with the approach of EU policy makers to creating the EU’s 2008 Climate and Energy Package.

Baroness Bryony Worthington told the Bloomberg New Energy Summit, “The European 2008 package, without realizing it, contributed to and fostered some of the conditions that led to Brexit.”
Bryony Worthington
Worthington, executive director of the Environmental Defense Fund, added, “It was far too top-down in its view and too inflexible in its approach to climate change. It led to rancour from being told what to do by Eurocrats.”

In 2008, Brussels approved a set of laws to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels, boost energy efficiency by a fifth and increase the share of renewables in energy consumption by 20 percent. To meet the goals, European member states had to translate the rules into domestic legislation and enact policies to promote the transition to low-carbon economy.

Worthington went on to question the merits of the German energy transition and its suitability as a model for the rest of Europe. She maintained it is an unfair imposition on countries differing greatly in resources.

Former energy secretary Ed Davey, also a panellist at the event, also criticised the 2008 package for not enabling countries to decarbonise according to their own strengths.

“The 2008 package was too technology-focused instead of meeting the real objective, which is to cut greenhouse gases. That means giving countries such as Poland the freedom to tackle these problems the way they wanted to without Brussels interference, through allowing them to meet their obligations in a technology neutral way.”

Despite her profile as an environmentalist, Worthington demonstrated an appreciation for the UK Treasury’s conundrum in maintaining tax revenue streams, during the ongoing energy transition.

“If you understand the world from the Treasury’s perspective, because of the disruption the fossil fuel base they have been relying on for years is declining- renewables do not pay the tax base that fossils do. The Treasury is trying to find a way to keep the coffers filled in a new system. We should not see renewables contribution to the tax base as a problem.”

Earlier the head of Bloomberg New Energy Finance Jon Moore told the Barbican audience that by 2040, 25 per cent of cars on the road will be electric. In a further reference to the implications for electricity demand in future he mentioned the phenomenon of corporate procurement of clean energy.

“81 of the fortune 100 companies say they are going 100 per cent clean ” Europe is not there yet so that’s a big growth area, and the opportunities in Asia are huge ” most of the build out will be there; it’s an interesting dynamic to watch over the next few months and years.”

Despite the positive projections, there was an awareness at the summit that 2016 is not turning out to be a great year for renewable energy.

The world invested a total of $42.4bn in renewable energy and energy-related smart technologies in July-September 2016, which represents a 43 per cent year-on-year and 31 per cent quarter-on-quarter decline.

Taking into consideration the fact that the first two quarters of 2016 were also weaker than last year’s, BNEF expects clean energy investment in 2016 to be well below the prior year’s record of $348.5bn.

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