Draft EU energy efficiency paper talks tough

Europe should aim to slash 20% off its 2005 energy consumption levels by 2020, according to a draft green paper on energy efficiency expected to be adopted by the European Commission next month. Achieving the reduction would cut energy consumption by 360m tonnes of oil equivalent (mtoe) and yield financial savings of €60bn per year, it says.

e discussion paper, prepared by energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs and obtained by Environment Daily, says governments should as a first step be obliged to set precise “energy savings targets” in their national programmes to implement the Lisbon strategy for economic growth. The programmes are due to be submitted later this year.

Part of the cut should also be achieved through mandatory national energy efficiency targets, as proposed in the Commission’s 2003 end-use efficiency directive. This draft law would set a 1% annual target for improving energy efficiency. It has been enthusiastically welcomed by MEPs, but has met with indifference in the council of ministers.

The paper goes on to set out “cost-efficient” steps to curb energy consumption. Half the cuts required would come from “rigorous implementation of adopted measures”, the rest from additional actions. The transport and buildings sectors are singled out as offering the greatest potential reductions.

Market tools are promoted as a key way to promote energy efficiency, with an emphasis on tax breaks and state aid shifts favouring greener products and services. Fiscal incentives and green pricing adjustments should be directed in particular to promote more energy efficient cars, the draft says.

Recognising the difficulty in agreeing unanimous EU tax policies, the paper says smaller groups of willing member states should be encouraged to use the “enhanced cooperation” mechanism of the Amsterdam treaty to introduce progressive fiscal measures.

Other actions aimed at transport include encouraging businesses to include a certain percentage of energy-efficient cars within their corporate fleet, and levying regional road tolls based on energy consumption. Savings could amount to 90mtoe of the overall 360mtoe target, the paper says.

In the buildings sector Mr Andris recommends extending minimum standards set under the energy performance of buildings directive to the renovation of all buildings over 50m2, rather than 1000m2 as is now the case. This would apply the law to a huge chunk of the residential building sector, a move repeatedly urged by synthetic wool insulation association Eurima.

Together with improvements in the efficiency of household equipment and lighting, this move could lead to savings of 105mtoe by 2020, predicts the green paper.

Republished with permissions of Environment Daily

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