Energy efficiency plan brings encouragement, but no binding targets

The EU's Energy Efficiency Action Plan brought in a series of measures that encourage Europeans to cut energy waste - but failed to set binding energy efficiency targets, to the dismay of green groups.

European countries currently waste over 20% of the energy they use and could save this amount with zero net investment, according to the European Commission’s own estimate. Last month the EC had proposed cutting out this waste completely by 2020.

But while the Energy Efficiency Plan finalised this week tackles energy waste in appliances, buildings, transport and energy generation with a series of ‘initiatives,’ it fails to make the proposed target of 20% energy saving by 2020 into a binding target.

“We think this is too weak to drive progressive legislation in the near future.

“We’ve seen words like ‘we encourage, we support, we welcome’ so many times but nothing comes out of it,” Jan Kowalzig, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, told edie.

“Increasing energy efficiency is the cheapest way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions because every kilowatt save is also a financial saving both for the consumer and for the producer,” he said.

The European Commission said that the 20% energy saving by 2020 was “technically and economically possible,” and would save the EU 25 an annual 100bn euro whilst reducing carbon emissions by 780m tonnes each year.

Sonja Meister, climate campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Europe has a vast potential to stop wasting energy, but EU ministers constantly fail to agree concrete steps to tap into that potential. Europe’s governments must swap their grand words with real action, based on binding targets and powerful legislation.”

The transport sector is of particular concern, FoE said, as carmakers have no clear obligations to improve fuel efficiency and are far off the mark even on meeting their own voluntary – and unambitious – targets.

“If the EU wants to secure its long-term energy supply, then cutting its appalling waste of energy should be the top priority. Road traffic burns up 80 percent of Europe’s oil imports and the fuel efficiency of cars is barely improving – carmakers got away with weak and voluntary targets so they are just sitting back,” Sonja Meister said.

Energy commissioner Andris Pielbags said: “Council agrees that energy efficiency and energy savings constitute a cornerstone of the Energy Policy for Europe. Energy efficiency and energy savings contribute concurrently to the three main Community energy policy objectives relating to security of energy supply, competitiveness and sustainable development including climate change.”

“Council encourages the Commission and member states to ensure continuous improvement in the energy efficiency of vehicles,” the Energy Efficiency Action Plan reads.

Goska Romanowicz

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