From mitigating climate change, to keeping energy costs in check and improving energy security, energy efficiency provides a solution to some of the main challenges that have been facing European countries and our neighbours. This has been repeatedly recognised by the Commission and European Council. One would expect this broad recognition of the benefits of energy savings, to lead to the Commission proposing an ambitious and binding EU energy savings target for 2030. Unfortunately, this might not to be the case.
Are EU Commissioners trying to holding back energy efficiency in Europe?
At the end of June, we heard that the Commission is considering proposing a weak and indicative target of 27% energy savings. This political agreement was the outcome of a private but now widely reported meeting between President Barosso, and Commissioners Oettinger and Hedegaard. This was just a day after seven member states wrote to the Commission calling for an ambitious and binding target. However, the Commission seems to be intent on ignoring them.
A 27% target would not even be justified by the Commission’s own preferred options. A leaked draft Communication of the EED Progress Review suggests going to either 30% or 35% energy savings. Considering a 2030 indicative target of 27% energy savings would therefore be the rejection of their own work.
It will also be a depreciation of energy efficiency as a key pillar of European climate and energy policy. The Commission’s leaked Communication states that in order to reach its agreed 2020 commitment, Europe needs to achieve savings which correspond to around half of the 20% target between 2010 and 2020. If the same rate of energy savings continues for the period between 2020 and 2030, then Europe will reduce its energy consumption by approximately another 10%, reaching 30% energy savings in 2030. So, to achieve a 27% target would mean that Europe will need to become less efficient. Who thought that a less efficient Europe would be a good idea? In contrast, the analysis in the leaked impact assessment, which is supposed to accompany the Commission’s Communication, shows that moving to higher levels of ambition corresponds to greater benefits.
Going for 27% energy saving in 2030 would mean ignoring the call for a binding and ambitious energy efficiency target from member states and similar recommendations from the European Parliament. It will also require slowing down efforts compared to 2020, which will have an impact not only on reducing greenhouse emissions but also becoming more resilient against energy security risks.
The European Commission needs to clear away any thoughts of putting a worthless indicative target on the negotiating table. Instead, they need to propose an appropriate level of ambition for 2030. A 40% energy savings target for 2030 will help Europe tap into its significant remaining energy efficiency potential, and this in turn will unleash the full benefits to our citizens and economies.