A fresh call for an expanded energy efficiency target from environmentalists claims that the UK could boost the British economy by £62bn.
At a time where the 20% by 2020 targets are looming large over the heads of the government – in which the UK and other members of the European Union have committed to a 20% market share for renewables and 20% emissions cut by the end of the decade – the WWF has claimed that UK should be setting the bar even higher, and could see significant financial rewards for doing so.
WWF gained access to an unpublished EU study carried out by independent consultants Cambridge Econometrics, thanks to an access to information request.
In the study, figures serve to highlight the benefits of, not just bringing in renewable commercial energy sources, but the huge potential gain by engineering the economy itself to use less energy.
A 40% cut in energy usage could see the UK’s GDP rocket by £62bn and create 40,000 new jobs by 2030, whilst a more modest 30% cut would bring in a predicted 13,000 new jobs and boost the economy by £17.3bn.
“The benefits of energy efficiency are impressive and we need to be ambitious,” said Brook Riley, a spokesman for Friends of the Earth. “GDP gains are three times higher with a 40% reduction target than with 30%. It is significant that the countries which were hardest hit by the financial crisis – Greece, Portugal, Ireland – are among the strongest advocates of going as far as we can.
Energy environment and energy ministers have begun a week-long conference this week in Milan, where it’s expected the EU’s energy targets for the future will be laid out. Early indications suggest a 27% by 2030 goal for commercial energy coming from renewable sources, whilst another target for bringing down greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to the 1990 benchmark has been mooted.
Already energy-efficient countries such as Denmark and Germany have come out in favour of a bump up to 30%, as has president of the European commission Jean-Claude Juncker. However, the UK and other countries – including Poland – are opposed to a figure beyond 28% over concerns over cost and the EU having too much say in the future of it’s member states’ energy future.