The government has been accused of lobbying Europe to water down efforts on tackling climate change, ahead of the publication of proposed EU carbon-cutting targets for 2030, the Belfast Telegraph has reported.
The European Commission will this week set out proposed targets for EU-wide carbon emissions reductions by 2030 as part of a package of climate measures.
A series of targets are in place up to 2020, including reducing Europe’s emissions by 20 per cent on 1990 levels and sourcing 20 per cent of energy from renewables.
The commission is likely to publish a series of recommendations for developing shale gas projects in member states, rather than drawing up new EU-wide regulations on fracking.
The UK opposes a renewables target for 2030, arguing it would stop countries using the most cost-effective ways of cutting emissions, which could include non-renewable technology such as nuclear power and measures to cut carbon from conventional power stations.
The government has also warned against new legislation on fracking which could delay investment or create uncertainty for the new industry in Europe.
The UK has argued against setting new targets for cutting emissions from transport fuels under the fuel quality directive after 2020.
The directive demands a 6 per cent cut in emissions from transport fuel by 2020, and efforts have been made to class tar sands as more polluting than conventional oil.
However, abandoning targets for the fuel quality directive after 2020 would undermine efforts to reduce emissions from transport fuels this decade and beyond, and open the door to tar sands coming into Europe, including the UK, environmentalists say.