EU could miss 2030 energy efficiency target

The European Union may be heading for an overall improvement in energy efficiency of only 23 per cent, rather than the 30 per cent officially claimed as the 2030 reduction target from a 2010 baseline.

Currently under negotiation as part of revisions to the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive, is a proposal backed by both the European Commission and the European Parliament to alter the amount of energy efficiency required.

Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete launched negotiations by claiming that: “I am particularly proud that we are proposing a binding 30 per cent energy efficiency target for 2030, up from the current indicative target of at least 27 per cent”. 

However, environmental NGO Carbon Market Watch believes that flexibilities on offer to national governments will greatly reduce, down to 23 per cent, the amount of mandated energy efficiency activity. It is being proposed that Governments can take many other factors into consideration when determining how they will meet their obligations. 

Among the opt-out options are whether there is sufficient remaining cost-effective energy-saving potential, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) projections, development of all sources of renewable energy, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage, changes in imports and exports of energy, and any early action undertaken. Any of these can reduce the amount of activity that will take place in each country. 

Negotiations on the changes required for both the Energy Efficiency Directive and its sister, the 2010 Energy Performance of Buildings directive, are due to be finalised this year. Governments are then required to transpose the agreed changes into national law within 12 months. 

The UK is set to depart membership of the EU in April 2019. So, assuming the current negotiations timetable is adhered to, any such changes will form part of UK law even when Brexit is completed. 

It will therefore automatically be transferred into national law- at least initially. Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom has announced that she anticipates subsequently scrapping at least one-third of ecologically oriented European laws.

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