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Government accused of diluting energy targets

The coalition has been trying to water down key environmental regulations in Brussels, despite promoting green issues, according to The Guardian.

The newspaper alleges government hypocrisy over green issues, following the viewing of leaked articles.

The papers, seen by the Guardian, reveal British officials repeatedly trying to prevent the adoption of European Union rules on energy efficiency, curtailing the proposals and making them voluntary rather than mandatory in many cases.

In addition, the UK has tried repeatedly to ensure that the EU does not adopt a new target for renewable energy generation.

They are significant because they indicate that Ed Davey, the energy secretary since February, has given his blessing to lobbying begun under his predecessor Chris Huhne.

These government efforts have the backing of the UK’s big six energy firms, according to other documents obtained under freedom of information rules.

Both issues remain key to plans to reduce European greenhouse gas emissions – putting the government’s position in Europe at odds with its fanfare over the last few weeks for the proposed “green” energy bill.

Ministers have described the bill, the centrepiece of claims to be “the greenest government ever”, as likely to generate £110bn in investment in low-carbon and efficient energy infrastructure in the UK in the biggest shakeup of the market since privatisation in the 1980s.

In one leaked document, from the Council of the EU on the draft 2050 proposals on energy, the UK has attempted to excise a reference to a potential 30 per cent target for renewables by 2030, replacing it with the far more vague wording of “a significantly increased share for renewable in the energy mix”.

At another point in the document, which is dated 23 April 2012, the UK has tried to remove the word “urgent”.

The document shows that Davey, a Liberal Democrat, has opposed a new EU target on renewable energy since taking office in early February.

A previous document showing attempts by the government to water down the EU renewable energy target – revealed by the Guardian in March – was largely prepared under his predecessor, Chris Huhne.