EU member states could rally against energy efficiency goals

EU member states are considering an attempt to weaken the Union’s 2030 energy efficiency goals, in a move that could put them at odds with the European Parliament, which backs stronger legislation.

A number of leaked documents prepared by Malta, which holds the rotating Presidency of the EU, revealed that member states will accept the executive’s proposed 30 per cent increase in energy efficiency compared to 1990 levels.

However, governments have pushed back at the Commission’s demand that the 2030 targets be made binding, calling for them to be “indicative,” or non-binding, instead.

The European Commission’s bill is being amended by both the Council of Ministers and the Parliament, with both MEPs and national diplomats having to agree an identical text before it becomes law.

In October 2014, EU leaders supported a 27 per cent 2030 energy efficiency target, with the executive’s preferred option of a 30 per cent binding goal being diluted.

The Commission, which has vowed to put “efficiency first” in its energy policy, has argued that the December 2015 Paris Agreement on climate justified increasing the draft target back up to 30 per cent. The EU is also revising its Energy Efficiency Directive and putting measures to meet its UN commitments to cap global warming into law.

Energy efficiency helps to prevent environmentally harmful emissions and will be vital if the bloc is to succeed in its low-carbon economy roadmap. That calls for an 80% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 1990 levels, by 2050.

The European Parliament has backed resolutions demanding a 40% binding efficiency target and is likely to call for greater ambition in the bill. Roland Joebstl of the European Environmental Bureau, believes that member states should be seeking to increase ambition to 40 per cent, as demanded by the European Parliament, “not already scheming about how they might get away with future underperformance.”

The Maltese Presidency has said it wants to deliver an agreed position from member states on the EED before the end of its six-month term in June, with the documents, dated March 9, subject to change as discussions continue.

Marion Santini of the Coalition for Energy Savings, claims that the compromise proposed by Malta falls short of providing certainty to the energy efficiency sector.

“Both a 40 per cent binding target for 2030 and a 2050 perspective for annual energy savings are needed for the EU to act convincingly on energy efficiency and bring tangible benefits to citizens,” she said.

Alix Chambris, director of EU Public Affairs at Danfoss, added: “Now is the time to demonstrate political courage. The industry needs a strong signal to keep investing in innovation in energy efficiency.

“The binding nature of the energy efficiency target clearly gives the industry such clear signal,” said which makes energy efficiency products.”

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