Davey insists UK will meet renewable energy targets

Wind farm off the coast of Kent Ministers say the level of private investment in clean energy is encouraging

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The UK is on course to meet its carbon emission reduction targets by 2020, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said ahead of a clean energy summit in London.

The meeting brings together energy ministers from 23 countries who are seeking solutions for power sources that do not fuel climate change.

Many Tory MPs are urging ministers to scale back support for wind power projects, saying costs are too great.

A fund to help firms demonstrate clean technologies is set to be unveiled.

The government hopes the two-day gathering will enable the UK to "showcase" what it is doing to promote energy efficiency and low-carbon development.

'Leading the world'

Ministers are launching a £35m fund to help entrepreneurs demonstrate low-carbon technologies such as advanced lighting, heat pumps and ventilation technology.

Mr Davey said the fund and other initiatives would "accelerate progress" on clean energy, telling the BBC that "this is a practical way that we can make sure we get to a low-carbon economy".

Start Quote

The so-called conservatory tax isn't about conservatories and is not a tax”

End Quote Ed Davey Energy and Climate Change Secretary

Amid reports of divisions between the Conservatives and their Lib Dem partners about the cost of environmental pledges, campaigners say David Cameron's aim to lead the "greenest government ever" is proving hollow.

But Mr Davey insisted ministers "were all in it together" when it came to the government's environmental goals.

"This government is doing more on energy efficiency than any government in history," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "Indeed we are leading the world."

'Progress'

He expected the UK to meet its target of sourcing 30% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020, with the "clean energy" sector having attracted nearly £5bn in private investment last year.

"We started off from a very low base. When we came to government, we were right at the bottom of the league," he said. "But we really have now begun to turn that round and we are moving fast.

"If you look at the progress we are making and look at our plans, I think we will hit that target."

Chancellor George Osborne warned last year that the UK's drive to meet emissions reduction targets could not come at the expense of extra burdens on business and reduced competitiveness.

There has been tension in the coalition over the cost of offshore wind development, with more than 100 Conservative MPs urging the prime minister to cut subsidies for turbines.

Mr Davey's predecessor, Chris Huhne, recently accused some Conservatives of trying to "sabotage" the flagship Green Deal energy efficiency plan - which will enable homeowners to insulate their homes at no upfront cost and which ministers say will help people to make substantial savings on their energy bills.

And there is opposition to plans - currently at the consultation stage - for homeowners to pay for energy efficiency upgrades when converting their lofts and garages or making other major home extensions.

'Conservatory tax'

But Mr Davey said what has been dubbed a "conservatory tax" was not "fundamental" to the central Green Deal.

"The so-called conservatory tax isn't about conservatories and is not a tax," he said.

The left-leaning Institute of Public Policy Research think tank said David Cameron - who will address the summit on Thursday - needed to "stamp his authority" over what was becoming an increasingly "divisive" issue.

"The irony is that while there will be much international interest at the conference in ambitious UK government policies such as the Green Investment Bank...and the flagship Green Deal home insulation initiative, many of these policies are being weakened by domestic politics," said Clare McNeil, an IPPR research fellow.

"Some Conservatives, emboldened by the chancellor's reticence on green issues and keen to pick a fight with the Liberal Democrats, are campaigning to undermine some of the coalition's most important green policies."

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