Britain is trying to water down proposed new environmental regulations in Brussels, secret papers suggest.
Documents obtained by campaigners show that officials are fighting the introduction of tough new targets on renewable energy use and reducing waste.
They are also trying to make the European Union proposals voluntary rather than mandatory.
Green groups say the papers, obtained under Freedom of Information laws, show that ministers have given in to industry lobbying despite their pledge to create the “greenest government ever”.
Joss Garman, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace, told the Guardian: “These documents are proof that [Ed Davey, the energy secretary] has caved in to fossil fuel industry lobbyists fighting to increase our dependence on burning imported and polluting gas to generate power.
“With rocketing gas prices hitting families’ energy bills and the wider economy, now is exactly the time ministers should be backing clean energy to provide secure power at stable prices. This is a government that has a too cosy relationship with powerful special interests – and Britain’s bill payers will pick up the tab.”
The current EU target for 20 per cent of energy to come from renewable sources such as solar panels and wind turbines expires in 2020, but documents from the Council of the EU suggest that Britain does not want it to be replaced with a more ambitious goal of 30 per cent by 2030.
Instead it wants a draft proposal merely to mention a “significantly increased share for renewable in the energy mix”.
At the same time, European officials want a legally binding target of improving energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2020 along with mandatory audits of energy waste. But again British officials are said to want these aims to be diluted.
They also claim that some renovations of government buildings, intended to make them more environmentally friendly, could risk safety.