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British low-carbon target in doubt

Scottish MP said the so-called Brexit could pose challenges to renewable energy goals.

By Daniel J. Graeber
British low-carbon target in doubt
British renewable energy targets for 2020 in serious jeopardy, a report from Parliament finds. Photo by Pattie Steib/Shutterstock

LONDON, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The British reputation as a leader in the movement to adopt a low-carbon economy is under threat in part from the decision to leave the EU, a minister said.

The British government said it's on pace to meet the goal of getting 30 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, but the 12 percent target for heat and the 10 percent target for the transportation sector are lagging.

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A report from British members of Parliament finds the 2020 goals are rendered uncertain by the June referendum to leave the European Union. The government of Prime Minister Theresa May must recommit to its benchmarks or set replacement targets, it said.

"We agreed our 2020 renewable energy targets as part of the EU but they still have many merits, even as the British government prepares for Brexit," Scottish National Party MP Angus MacNeil said in a statement. "If the United Kingdom reneges on these targets, it will undermine confidence in the government's commitment to clean energy."

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MacNeil is the chairman of a committee on energy and climate change.

Scotland's government in July made nearly $26 million available for small-scale demonstration projects aimed at advancing a low-carbon economy in Scotland.

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The government estimated the low-carbon economy, one aimed at lowering emissions, and renewable energy sector employed more than 21,000 people and had a market value of $7.3 billion last year. It said it would work to keep that momentum moving forward after the departure from the EU.

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The British targets for 2020 are legally binding according to rules set by the EU's governing body.

"Failing to meet these would damage the British reputation for climate change leadership," the Scottish MP said.

Before the June vote, environmental campaigners dumped a ton of coal at the British government's doorstep to protest ongoing mining operations in the country. That followed a report from the World Health Organization that said nearly a dozen British cities, including London, failed to meet standards for particle air pollution.

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