Commissioner Oettinger may welcome Energy Efficiency Directive vote, but more ambition is needed

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5 October 2012

BRUSSELS: The EU has welcomed yesterday’s positive vote from the Council (EPSCO) on the Energy Efficiency Directive, which is expected to drive the EU’s 20% energy efficiency target for 2020—but The Climate Group calls for more ambition to cut costs and create jobs.

Following the European Parliament's overwhelmingly positive support for the energy efficiency agreement which was declared on September 11, EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger said of the Council's final adoption of the Directive: "I strongly welcome the positive Council vote today on the Energy Efficiency Directive. The most important phase of the process – the implementation – will start soon. I call upon Member States and stakeholders for extra efforts to bring its provisions into life.

"The Commission also remains dedicated and committed to continue its support to the process.''

Energy efficiency targets

The Directive drives legally binding measures to ensure Member States use energy more efficiently and set national targets for 2020. It is the result of the March 2007 EU summit, when Member States agreed on a 20% energy efficiency target by 2020, together with 20% renewable energy and 20% CO2 reduction targets.

But while the latter two targets were dealt with instantly, a binding target agreement on energy efficiency was postponed until 2012. 

Main changes the long-awaited Directive will bring include:

  • Energy companies must reduce sales to industry and households by over 1.5% each year
  • A 3% renovation rate for government-owned public buildings 
  • EU Member States must draw up roadmaps to make the entire building sector more energy efficient by 2050 

Short of the goal

The measures are expected to result in a reduced 15% total energy savings by 2020, which is short of the 20% goal they had previously agreed in principle in 2007.

To boost the shortfall and reach 20% savings, measures such as fuel efficiency regulation for cars and new standards for products such as boilers will be added to the Ecodesign directive. Also, in April 2013, Member States are expected to present their national efficiency programs and calculate targets.

If Member States do not apply the additional measures and are still not on track to meet the target for 2020, the Commission will propose binding targets. The savings will then be calculated as of 2014 and there will be a review in 2016.

Boost ambition

Like last summer when the draft was first released, Luc Bas, Director of European Programmes and International States and Regions, The Climate Group, calls for more ambition. He said: “There are positive elements here but it is far from what is really needed for a transformative change for a clean revolution.

"More ambition would save a lot in current governments and business budgets and would create many local jobs. More importantly, we now need to see how this translates into national regulation and policy. If Washington or Beijing made such a decision there would be so much less room for interpretation and delays.”

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