EU likely to adopt binding energy efficiency targets

It now seems increasingly likely that the European Union will adopt a binding target for energy efficiency improvements across all 28 member States by 2030

It now seems increasingly likely that the European Union will adopt a binding target for energy efficiency improvements across all 28 member States by 2030.

Currently, Europe has two legally binding targets for 2020, covering climate change and renewable energy. In contrast, only “aspirations” exist to improve energy efficiency by 2020.

Of these “targets”, the only one unlikely to be met by the end of the decade is the most cost-effective one – cutting back on energy wastage.

Last March the European Parliament voted heavily in favour of ensuring that there would be a substantial and legally binding target  to improve energy efficiency by 2030. MEPs were particularly concerned to see concentration upon the 350m buildings in Europe – responsible for almost half total fuel consumption.

When the EP voted, many Western European governments had already announced support. These included France, Belgium, Austria, Denmark and Ireland.

Since then, proponents of the binding target concept have gained two valuable allies. Previously hesitant, European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger (right) now says “I feel that it would be appropriate to propose a binding energy efficiency target and make that proposal to the Council, and to the Parliament.”

The Commission’s impact assessment had already concluded that a binding target would bring many additional benefits that mere aspirations would not: “Improvements in fuel efficiency, security of supply, reduction of the negative trade balance for fossil fuels, localised environmental impacts, and health benefits.” In contrast, a single GHG target would “result in lower GDP and employment”.

Oettinger is stressing that “now more than ever energy efficiency and energy savings need to be our first response to energy import dependence.”

This argument has struck a chord with the German government, who have now declared themselves also in favour of legal targets for both energy saving and renewables.

There remain a few governments, who still oppose the need to give teeth to energy saving. The UK still rejects the idea, apparently on the grounds that if successful it may lower carbon prices which could then reduce anticipated revenues to the Exchequer. The UK government argument to resist helping energy efficiency is supported by both Romania and Bulgaria.

 

 

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