The government has been urged to keep EU climate change targets in place regardless of the outcome of last month’s Brexit vote.

The targets have played a “leading role” in the UK’s efforts to reduce emissions, the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) has warned.

The current combination of laws, regulations and policies, both on an EU and UK level, have given investors “the confidence to begin putting the UK on the path towards a low-carbon future”.

In an open letter to Greg Clark – the secretary of state for the newly formed Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – the Association wrote: “Following the referendum, it is now critical that government restores this already-eroded confidence by giving an assurance that, until the terms of leaving the EU are in place, all relevant EU directives and targets are still in place and the UK government is legally obliged to continue to meet them.”

The letter concerns three EU directives, all of which set targets to be achieved by 2020: the Renewable Energy Directive, which requires 15 per cent of all energy used for electricity, transport and heating to come from renewable sources; the Energy Efficiency Directive, which requires the UK’s final energy consumption to be reduced to 129.2 million tonnes of oil equivalent; and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, which requires nearly all new buildings to be ‘zero energy’.

ACE chief executive Joanne Wade said: “Cutting emissions is the pathway to secure, affordable energy for the UK in the long-term as well as tackling climate change. We need a firm commitment to these long-agreed targets for 2020.”

Renewable Energy Association chief executive Nina Skorupska agreed, saying: “For the sake of jobs and investor confidence the government cannot afford to row back on the EU 2020 renewables targets.”

The UK is on course to miss the target to produce 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, National Grid revealed earlier this month.

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