What has the EU done for UK green energy?

Sam Lowe

18 May 2016

Burning fossil fuels is making climate change worse. We need to shift quickly to renewable energy. Has EU membership helped or held us back?

Green energy is on the rise. Between 2008 and 2015 the percentage of electricity from renewables in the UK quadrupled.

Our stance on the EU

What is the Renewable Energy Directive?

In 2009 the EU brought in the Renewable Energy Directive. It had one ambitious aim: to ensure that the EU achieved 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Crucially the EU set national targets. It made member states produce action plans spelling out exactly how they were going to meet their obligations.

This has had a huge impact on the UK. It has been largely responsible for the rapid growth in renewable electricity that we have seen in the last 5 years.

Dr Doug Parr, the chief scientist at Greenpeace said:

It was a forced ambition, but it was ambition nonetheless. Before that renewables had been treated like a bit of a joke.

Community energy project, Brixton, London

Will we meet our 2020 renewables targets?

It doesn’t look like it.

This is because of slow progress in the heat and transport sectors. Also, the government won’t push the one sector doing well: electricity.

What more needs to be done?

The UK has been one of the fiercest critics of renewable energy targets. As a result, the next phase of the Renewable Energy Directive looks to be far weaker than what is needed.

More generally, the EU needs to become more community focused – allowing people and communities a greater say in their energy future. This is happening in fits and starts.

Government cuts to UK solar threatens people's jobs

Would leaving the EU hinder or help?

It seems unlikely that leaving the EU would help renewable energy in the UK.

Recent government attacks on solar and onshore wind suggest an uncertain outlook for UK renewables post-Brexit.

Also, to fully harness the vast potential of renewable energy, we’ll need to work closely with our European neighbours. This would be much more difficult outside of the EU.

On Thursday 23 June we all get to vote on our EU membership. But you can't vote if you're not registered.

Our stance on the EU

In the financial year 2014-2015, 90% of our income was from individual donations. Less than 1% of our funding was from the EU.

Promoted by Anne Schiffer on behalf of Friends of the Earth Trust, registered charity no. 281681, company no. 1533942, of The Printworks, 1st Floor, 139 Clapham Road, SW9 0HP

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Solar PV instalation (for electricity) North London, UK, 2011