The recommendation comes in spite of calls for a more ambitious energy savings target of 40% in a letter signed by Environment Ministers from seven European countries.

The Commission’s President José Manuel Barrosa, Energy Commissioner Günter Oettinger and Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard met earlier today (19 June) to agree the figure as part of a set of climate and energy proposals for 2030. Their proposals will need to be formally adopted by other Commission departments.

The decision to recommend a 27% reduction conflicts with the Commission’s own Impact Assessment for the Energy Efficiency Review; which estimated that a 28% target would reduce gas imports by only 16% compared to 2010 levels, whereas a 40% energy reduction would reduce imports by 40% and increase employment by 3.1%.

The 27% target has already met with opposition from the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), a coalition of businesses committed to energy efficiency whose members include Siemens, Philips and Kingspan. The group argued that only a 40% reduction target will give private investors confidence that the European market is ready scale-up sustainable energy projects.

EU-ASE President Monica Frassoni said: “The Commission must objectively look at the best options for our society to decarbonise, safeguard our energy security and keep our economy competitive. Never before has real action on energy efficiency been so crucial for Europe.”

Long-term transformation

The recommendation ignores appeals for greater reductions in a letter sent on Tuesday (17 June), signed by ministers from Germany, Denmark and five other European nations. “A target for increased energy efficiency in 2030 should be ambitious and support the long-term transformation of the energy system which is needed to reach the EU target of an 80-95 percent reduction of green-house gas emissions by 2050,” the letter reads.

In February, the European Parliament voted to support binding resolutions for a 40% energy efficiency target, however the leaders of the Member States put off a decision on 2030 climate and energy policy until October.

The proposal was met with derision from Brook Riley of environmental group Friends of the Earth. Riley called the 27% target ‘pitifully weak and incomprehensible at a time when the EU is crying out for a way to reduce dependence on Russian gas’.

“Why did the Commission bother to carry out in-depth research showing the huge socio-economic benefits of an ambitious energy savings target, if it was only going to discard it? It’s now vital that Germany, Denmark and the other progressive EU member states reject the Commission’s position and press for more cuts in energy use,” he added.

Matt Field

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