The role of the Renewables Directive in meeting Kyoto targets

01 October 2000

There is a strong case for acting to mitigate the threat of climate change associated with the unrestrained increases in emissions of greenhouse gases. The Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering therefore welcome efforts by the European Union to reduce emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources but highlights a number of areas where EU energy policy could be improved. One of the main conclusions of the report is that the introduction of the correct economic instruments is the key factor in allowing the sustainable growth of renewable energy technologies. A framework of a carbon tax on all primary hydrocarbon fuels across all energy sectors is advocated.

The report highlights concerns that, even if the UK and other Member States achieve their renewables targets (as suggested by evidence presented to the two academies), emissions of greenhouse gases will continue to rise if increasing electricity demand is met through increased consumption of fossil fuels. With this in mind, it is suggested that policies regarding energy from waste and the nuclear power industry be reviewed so that they can play a full and continued role in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.