Draft PPS 18: Renewable Energy
Policy Context: Climate Change
2.1 In December 1997, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (the Kyoto Protocol) was signed by 171 countries including the UK. Under this protocol, the European Union (EU) has a commitment to an 8% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by 2010.
2.2 The UK agreed to contribute to this target with a 12½% cut in its emissions. Moreover, the UK government set itself an even more challenging domestic target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions below its 1990 levels by 2010. The Kyoto Protocol came into operation on 16 February 2005.
2.3 Complementing this, the EU Renewables Directive (2001/77/EC) focuses on measures to encourage the promotion of electricity from renewable sources. This seeks to ensure that the overall EU indicative target of 12% of gross energy consumption (22% of electricity consumption) to be produced from renewable energy sources is met by 2010.
2.4 The Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation is the main policy mechanism for promoting the generation of electricity from renewable sources in line with the Renewables Directive. As such it supports international commitments to address climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. It also addresses the need to reduce Northern Ireland's high dependency on imports of increasingly scarce fossil fuels.
2.5 On 9 March 2007 the European Council of Ministers backed Commission proposals on energy and climate change, agreeing on an action plan to put in place a European energy policy by 2009. The most significant progress was achieving agreement on a binding target to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. In addition this binding target would increase to a 30% reduction should other industrialised nations, including the US, agree to take similar steps through international negotiations for a post-Kyoto agreement.
2.6 The UK Government published the draft Climate Change Bill on 13 March 2007. This Bill sets ambitious targets beyond those agreed by Europe in setting legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by between 26% and 32% by 2020, and 60% by 2050, from 1990 levels.