Shell lobbied against renewable energy targets
Shell successfully lobbied to undermine European renewable energy targets for 2030 ahead of a key agreement on emissions cuts reached in October last year, the Guardian has reported this week. According to leaked documents, a key part of the agreement – which was championed by the UK government – was proposed by a Shell lobbyist as early as October 2011.
Under the influence of lobbyists the UK and others had resisted binding targets for individual member states on energy efficiency and renewable energy and these did not make it into the final agreement.
Shell had begun lobbying Jose Manuel Barroso, the former head of the EU, in 2011 to scrap the bloc’s existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding renewable energy laws.
Shell argued that a market-led strategy of gas expansion would save Europe €500bn (£358bn) in its transition to a low carbon energy system, compared to an approach centred on renewables.
"Gas is good for Europe, and Europe is good at gas,” the firm’s upstream executive director, Malcolm Brinded wrote in a five-page letter to Barroso.
“Shell believes the EU should focus on reduction of greenhouse gases as the unique climate objective after 2020, and allow the market to identify the most cost efficient way to deliver this target, thus preserving competitiveness of industry, protecting employment and consumer buying power, to drive economic growth,” he wrote, adding in a hand-written note at the end, “This is a great opportunity for the EU to seize!”
The bloc eventually agreed that by 2030, every country would cut its emissions by 40%, measured against 1990 levels, and that although the EU as a whole would commit to a 27% share for renewables in the energy mix, that target was not binding on individual member states.
But the clean energy industry says that this is not enough to give investors the long-term certainty that they need.
The Guardian also reported that:
"The firm’s ‘single target’ idea gathered traction, particularly among supporters of nuclear power and shale gas, and was agreed as an official position in discussions between the UK Treasury and the Department of Energy and Climate Change in mid-2013.
Britain spearheaded the idea, with support from other countries in inter-state Green Growth Group meetings that year, before successfully getting a variant of the idea into the final agreement last October."
According to the Guardian, Shell is the sixth biggest lobbyist in Brussels, spending between €4.25-4.5m a year lobbying the EU institutions, according to the bloc’s transparency register.
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