Weak renewable energy goals for 2030 originated with Shell pitch for gas as a key technology for Europe to cut its carbon emissions in an affordable way
Shell successfully lobbied to undermine European renewable energy targets ahead of a key agreement on emissions cuts reached in October last year, newly released documents reveal.
At the time of the deal European commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “This package is very good news for our fight against climate change.” Adding: “No player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”
But it now appears that a key part of the agreement – which was championed by the UK government – was proposed by a Shell lobbyist as early as October 2011.
At the 2014 meeting heads of government agreed a 40% overall target for the bloc’s emissions cuts, but in the run up to the deal there had been disagreement between member states about how best to achieve that. The UK and others had resisted binding targets for individual member states on energy efficiency and renewable energy and these did not make it into the final agreement. Proponents of renewable energy say this was a key missed opportunity to give a strong signal to investors that the EU was serious about clean energy.
Now documents released to the Guardian under freedom of information laws show that as far back as October 2011, Shell had begun lobbying the Barroso, who was succeeded by Jean-Claude Juncker last November, to scrap the bloc’s existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws.
Shell argued that a market-led strategy of gas expansion would save Europe €500bn (£358bn) in its transition to a low carbon energy system, compared to an approach centred on renewables. “Gas is good for Europe, and Europe is good at gas,” the firm’s upstream executive director, Malcolm Brinded wrote in a five-page letter to Barroso.
“Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth,” he wrote, adding in a hand-written note at the end, “This is a great opportunity for the EU to seize!”
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