Britain has challenged Europe to sign up to an ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2030.
Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, called on fellow EU governments to sign up to the target as part of a global climate agreement in 2015.
The proposal marks a shift in the UK's position after internal coalition wrangling over climate change. The British government wants the EU to agree to 40 per cent reduction of carbon emissions from 1990 levels, with an "ambition" for it to be extended to 50 per cent when the agreement is reached in two years.
Yet in its own Energy Bill, published last year, the Government delayed setting a 2030 target for the UK because of a clash between Mr Davey and Chancellor George Osborne. Mr Osborne blocked the target, describing such a move as "inflexible", but agreed to a Lib Dem demand for greater subsidies for wind power.
Mr Davey said: "The UK is a global leader in tackling climate change and we need to maintain the momentum towards a binding global climate agreement in 2015. This 2030 target is ambitious, but it is achievable and necessary.
"We will need significant levels of renewable energy and other low-carbon technologies to meet such an ambitious target. The UK is committed to increasing renewables in our domestic energy mix."
Ruth Davis of Greenpeace described the UK plan as "common sense" but added: "This makes Government opposition to a binding renewables target even more perverse. Not for the first time, the irrational prejudices of the Tory right seem to have trumped the interests of working people in Britain."
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