On 22 June the European Commission published its proposal for a new Energy Efficiency Directive. This 'mother of all Directives' will replace both the Cogeneration Directive and the Directive on Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services, and basically puts the bones of ideas that were in March's Energy Efficiency Plan into legal language.
Unfortunately this means that, like the Plan, the Draft Directive leaves a lot to be desired. The EU's target to reduce energy use by 20% by 2020 is not made binding, despite the Commission admitting in its official assessment that a mandatory target is needed. The Commission's pledge for binding measures in lieu of an overall target also falls short: the proposed 3% annual renovation rate for public buildings does not oblige makeovers to be done to a high standard. No proposals are put forward to directly address private property - leaving well over 80% of the buiding stock potemtially untouched. And a clever concept to pblige energy companies to assist their companies to save energy - by selling 'energy services' as well as kilowatts - was weakened at the last moment (see the full story with lots of twists here). The main surviving measure concerns energy production: thermal power plants must be re-equipped with combined heat and power technology to make good use of waste heat.
But this is just the first draft. It is currently being commented on by the European Council and the European Parliament, who over the coming months wil each submit amendments to improve (or weaken) the text. CAN-Europe and many other stakeholders will be working hard to try and ensure that:
The Parliamentary Rapporteur is Green MEP Claude Turmes, who led the work on the Renewable Energy Directive. With the European Parliament having supported a binding target for energy savings last year, we can be hopeful MEPs will take the Directive in a good direction.
The Council is likely to be a tougher proposition. Member States have been difficult all the way through discussions so far on Europe's energy saving policy - despite agreeing wholeheartedly that energy efficiency is a Jolly Good Thing. It seems Ministers have still not fully grasped the extent to which reducing energy use will lower the need for costly energy imports, save money, create jobs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and assist in meeting renewable energy targets.
However, even power companies are starting to wake up to the opportunities inherent in energy efficiency... so there is a lot to play for. CAN-Europe is ready for the fight!