It doesn’t usually take long before the glitz of a European Union summit rubs off. Commitments signed up to amid a fanfare of rhetoric quickly become tarnished. There was a fascinating glimpse behind the shiny green paintwork of the target of sourcing 20 per cent of energy from renewable targets this week – and it wasn’t pleasant. The Guardian newspaper got hold of a government memo showing British bureaucrats are already looking for ways to erase what their leaders signed up to in March. They are lobbying governments and senior Commission officials for a “flexible” interpretation of whatever individual target the UK is assigned, so they can build solar farms in Africa or count nuclear generation. Investing in renewable sources at home is just too expensive.
It would be understandable if the Brits, like the poorer eastern Europeans, had tried to sabotage the idea from the outset. But instead Tony Blair, burnishing his green credentials, welcomed it.
Another "groundbreaking, bold" commitment (Mr Blair’s words), to source 10 per cent of transport fuels from plants by 2020, looks every bit as ugly.