MPs demand boost for renewable transport energy

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MPs have warned that the UK will fail to meet its 2020 renewable energy target unless the government takes urgent action – and they highlighted the fact that the proportion of renewable energy used in transport actually fell last year.

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change committee’s latest report points out that the UK is legally bound to provide for 15 per cent of its energy needs—including 30 per cent of its electricity, 12 per cent of its heat, and 10 per cent of its transport fuel—from renewable sources by 2020.

We expect the Government will surpass the electricity sub-target, but success in this sector may not compensate for underperformance in heat and transport. It is not yet halfway towards 12 per cent in heat and the proportion of renewable energy used in transport actually fell last year. On its current course, the UK will fail to achieve its 2020 renewable energy targets.

Energy and Climate Change Committee Chair Angus MacNeil MP said: “The experts we spoke to were clear: the UK will miss its 2020 renewable energy targets without major policy improvements. Failing to meet these would damage the UK’s reputation for climate change leadership. The government must take urgent action on heat and transport to renew its efforts on decarbonisation.”

In transport, the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation has been capped at 4.75 per cent since 2013: this is well below the level needed to meet the 2020 target, and the Government must begin raising it without delay, said the report.

“A roll-out of E10 (a fuel composed of 90 per cent petrol and 10 per cent bioethanol) will also be required; the Government should begin laying the groundwork for its introduction, including a strong public information campaign. Setting a limit on the proportion of transport biofuels from food crops—the ‘crop cap’—is a balancing act, but the Government’s proposed 1.5 per cent limit may be too low to achieve the 2020 transport target and must be reconsidered.

Christopher Snelling – FTA head of national and regional policy, who gave evidence to the committee said: “This report provides clear evidence that government must review its current policy on renewable transport fuels. While the UK must meet renewable energy targets, the freight sector is also under enormous pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality, but we need the policies in place to make alternatives feasible.”

Snelling argued that a greater proportion of Office for Low Emission Vehicles funding is also required for the freight sector if the UK is to meet the renewable energy targets. “Lack of refuelling infrastructure and added expense of alternatives makes the business case extremely difficult for operators.”

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