Delays to energy efficient goods will cost EU consumers ‘billions’ in lost savings

New energy efficient eco-designs for 15 products including fridges, TVs and dishwashers have been delayed, EU diplomats say, even though experts consider them "crucial" to meeting Europe's Paris climate pledge. The delays are also expected to mean consumers will miss out on lower energy bills.

The design revamps would have saved 62m tonnes of CO2 emissions – as much as Sweden’s annual primary energy consumption – but now look set to be dealt with by the next commission, in which far-right parties may be more influential.

Only five energy labelling measures are on track to be approved by a 2 November deadline and at least half of the design overhauls are unlikely to be approved before the European Parliament goes into recess in March.

“The measures are delayed and we are worried,” one EU diplomat told the Guardian, “We know that some of the products won’t make it but we really hope that we will have nine or 10 of them.”

Any hold-ups would impact on EU climate pledges, the official said, adding that a worst-case scenario in which all 15 eco-designs were sent back to the drawing board “would not be acceptable” to his government.

This would involve a costly bureaucratic double take, with recalculations and technical specifications needed from EU officials, consultants and research centres after 2019.

Chloé Fayole, a senior programme manager at the European Environmental Citizens Organisation for Standards (Ecos) said a two-year postponement in adopting the latest package would cost consumers and business €46bn (£41bn) in increased energy bills.

Eco-design and energy labelling improvements made up a quarter of the EU’s carbon dioxide emissions cuts in the years to 2020 – and one-half of its energy savings.

The new measures were expected to save about 5% of Europe’s annual electricity consumption by 2030, and introduce innovative requirements for recycling and repairability.

But the EU has been spooked by the past success of UK tabloid campaigns against eco-design proposals, burying planned revamps of hairdryers and hot drinks vending machines in 2016.

Officials declined to be quoted on the latest delay, citing a clampdown on whistleblowers under the Juncker commission, but EU sources told the Guardian that the office of Martin Selmayr, the commission secretary-general, was responsible for it.

Selmayr denied responsibility in comments emailed to the Guardian. He said: “All decisions are on the way, as scheduled by the responsible commission services in the commission’s Decide system and as validated by the first vice-president and the president’s cabinet.”

Selmayr’s boss, Jean-Claude Juncker, promised to be “big on the big things and small on the small things” when he was appointed in 2014.

Proposals to scrap or review eco-design and energy labelling laws followed soon after, and a bid to improve energy-guzzling toasters went up in flames during the Brexit referendum.

Fayole said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see high-level EU officials sabotage Europe’s plans for climate action and waste reduction. Taken behind closed doors, this decision will result in huge losses for consumers and the environment. This is surely not the right strategy ahead of the European elections.”

Other products at risk from the delay include washing machines, industrial fans, electric motors, power transformers and welding equipment.

Arthur Neslen 

This article first appeared on the Guardian

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