Why an energy savings target should be part of the 2030 climate and energy policy framework from the start.

 

On 27 March the European Commission issued a green paper on a new post 2020 climate and energy policy framework that officially opens the discussions to gain the views of the different stakeholders in the EU. It is intended to set the scene regarding issues that are relevant to the development of this policy framework. CAN Europe is concerned that it does not make a strong case for binding targets for renewable energy and energy savings that have been identified as no-regret options towards a low carbon economy.

The paper implies that any decision about setting an energy savings target needs to take into account the review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) in 2014, which will assess the progress of the EU towards reaching its 2020 energy savings target. Separating energy efficiency from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and renewables could mean following an approach that has been proven to be ineffective for ensuring coherence between the different elements of the climate and energy framework. The 20% EU energy savings target for 2020 – adopted separately from the 2020 targets for GHG emissions reductions and renewables – ended up being the only non-binding target, and the only one at risk of not being met.

Achieving Europe’s decarbonisation goals requires a significant reduction in energy use, and this needs to be incorporated in to any plan for the transformation of the energy system from the beginning. The 2014 review of the EED is meant to establish whether further measures will be needed to reach the EU 2020 energy savings target, and any discussions on a post 2020 policy framework should be based on the EU commitment to achieve the 20% energy savings target by 2020. The review in 2014 will show whether Member States will need to step up their efforts to achieve the required savings, it cannot dictate what the future target will be. The target for 2030 should be developed in correlation with greenhouse gas emission reduction and renewable energy targets, and the level of ambition should be based on the cost-effective potentials of energy savings.

Setting a binding 2030 energy savings target within the full climate and energy policy framework, would motivate countries to carry out a more ambitious implementation of the current EED that will go beyond the minimum requirements, increasing the chances of reaching the 2020 target without the need of further measures.

The adoption of the Energy Efficiency Directive has raised the profile of energy savings and the benefits in terms of jobs creation, reducing dependency on energy imports and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This process has created a momentum that should be used as an opportunity to restore the role of energy savings within a comprehensive climate and energy policy framework, and not as an excuse for leaving energy efficiency one step behind again. In this case, history should not repeat itself!