On the 28th of October, the European Environmental Agency (EEA) published its new ‘Trends and Projections’ report for 2014. This report is meant to track Europe’s progress towards achieving its 2020 climate and energy targets each year. It includes analysis for the current 2020 greenhouse gas and for the renewables and the energy efficiency targets.
The report estimates for the first time that Europe is on track to achieve its 2020 energy efficiency target, going a step further than the Commission’s July 2014 Energy Efficiency Communication, which identified a gap of 1–2% towards achieving the target. At first sight the message is positive, but if you take a a closer look into the analysis of the report it is clear that reaching the energy efficiency target is far from secured.
The EEA’s assessessment finds that progress made on reducing energy consumption over the years can be partly attributed to policy measures that have worked. Great! However, it also states that the economic recession has played an important role and will continue to do so in the coming years. With that being said, if the European economy picks up and energy consumption increases, the 2020 target could be easily out of reach again, especially if the implementation of the existing legislation is not as effective as it should be. This is also supported by member states’ declared national 2020 energy efficiency targets, presented in the report. Member states had to report these targets to the Commission by the end of April 2013 and it is already known that if they are added up together, then there is a gap of more than 3% towards achieving the 2020 EU target.
Regardless of whether there is a gap, or just the risk of a gap towards meeting the 2020 target, the fact remains that this target is a European commitment and failing to achieve it is not an option. Relying on the economic recession to do the trick makes no sense, when the improvement of energy efficiency and increased energy savings are part of the solution for achieving economic recovery. Ambitious implementation of energy efficiency measures can drive the reduction of energy consumption, bringing along with it the benefits of job creation, improved competiveness and lower energy bills. So, let’s focus on the pro-active policies that tackle climate change and benefit our economies. It’s a far better plan than relying on an economic recession.
By Dora Petroula, CAN Europe Energy Savings Policy Officer.