Ministers faced fresh calls to review the UK’s unilateral legally-binding green goals on Wednesday after Europe unveiled targets that appear to allow a slower pace of decarbonisation.
The European Commission said that Europe should cut carbon emissions by 40pc on 1990 levels by 2030, a policy that would then be translated into targets at different levels for individual member states.
The EC target for the UK would be expected to be higher than 40pc but Ed Davey, the energy secretary, was unable to say whether it would be as onerous as the target the UK has already set itself, to cut carbon emissions by 50pc by 2025.
Chancellor George Osborne has said that Britain should not be “out there in front of the rest of the world” or its European partners in tackling climate change.
The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the EU target appeared less stretching and called for the UK to review its own commitments.
“It has been clear for a while that others in Europe have little appetite to match the UK’s binding 50pc target and this announcement merely serves as confirmation,” it said. “Government must act to bring the UK back in line with Europe and send a clear signal that it is committed to ensuring the UK will remain a competitive place to invest through the 2020s.”