France throws weight behind 30% energy savings goal

Ségolène Royal speaks at the 2013 summer university of the French Socialist Party [Photo: Parti Socialiste / Flickr]
Ségolène Royal speaks at the 2013 summer university of the French Socialist Party. [Parti Socialiste / Flickr]

France's energy minister has joined Germany in backing an energy efficiency goal of at least 30% for 2030 ahead of talks in Brussels today (23 July) to thrash out a target.

Energy efficiency policies have gained momentum in the context of the Ukraine crisis as EU member states seek to do all they can to reduce the need for imported Russian energy.

But it is divisive because of the upfront costs required to make buildings more efficient, such as spending on improved insulation.

"It (France) supports a reduction of energy use of at least 30 percent and will help to define over the coming weeks how to enforce that," French Energy Minister Ségolène Royal wrote in a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, dated July 17, is addressed to European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard and European Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who will discuss an EU energy efficiency goal with all the other commissioners on Wednesday.

Following the internal debate, the Commission is expected to make a policy announcement.

A draft Commission report seen by EurActiv said the bloc fell just short of meeting a 2020 goal to achieve energy savings of 20% versus projected business as usual.

EU member states not reaching 2020 energy efficiency goals, Commission says on EurActiv

EU member states not reaching 2020 energy efficiency goals, Commission says

More on EurActiv »

That goal is part of a set of 2020 climate and energy policy goals and EU leaders have given themselves until October to decide on how to follow it up for 2030.

Some member states, such as Britain, and business interests have advocated a single, binding greenhouse gas cutting target for the bloc of 40% for 2030. They oppose repeating the 2020 policy model of multiple climate and energy goals, EU diplomats say.

Germany and the designated Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, however, have backed a binding efficiency target for 2030.

Last week, Juncker in his first address to the European Parliament since being named as the successor to current President José Manuel Barroso said a binding target of 30% was the minimum.

Forty percent is demanded by many environment campaigners - who say anything in the 20s is not ambitious - and also by the previous European Parliament prior to elections in May.

Commission research has found using less energy will lower prices, as well as curbing reliance on Russia - Europe's biggest energy supplier - with which the West is locked in conflict over its actions in Ukraine.

The research also finds bigger energy savings goals have a cost, but environment campaigners say the Commission is not focusing enough on the benefits, which include creating jobs in the building sector that can boost gross domestic product.

The Commission does not comment on unpublished documents or letters. A spokeswoman for Royal only confirmed the minister had written the letter.

  • Sept. 2014: Review of progress towards meeting the 2020 energy efficiency target
  • Oct. 2014: European Council to decide on 2030 climate and energy targets
  • 2016: European Commission to review the directive.
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet voluntary 20% energy-efficiency target
External links: 

European Commission



Mike Parr's picture

There are two broad narratives with respect to energy efficiency (EE). One, put forward by, amongst others, elements in the EC/DG Clima, is focused on EE "costs" coupled to the fact (undisputable) that these are up-front "costs".

The second, which is often glossed over, are the benefits of reduced fossil imports (currently running at Euro1bn+ per day), reduced spending by Europe and its citizens/companies on energy, reduced emissions and, oddly, easier integration of renewables into existing power systems.

Whilst EE has up-front costs, this is not a reason not to implement meaningful EE measures, because the benefits arising from EE are strategic. Specifically, reduced spending in the long term on energy which means that spending can be focused on other perhaps more useful things. Reducing emissions is a core (strategic) element of EU policy and EE is a tool to implement this, ditto more renewables and their intergation into existing power systems.

The problem is that EE is not easy to do - both in terms of policy (for example, how to finance at attractive rates) and in terms of implementation, on the ground. A cursory look at how a house is retroactively insulated to a high standard shows that it is a labour intensive activity (ah! another reason to do EE - good for employment).

EE has a tactical disadvantage - up-front costs. However, EE strategic advantages stretch out far into the future and constitute an excellent reason for setting a high mandatory EE target., 40% would be ideal, 35% should be the minimum.

Oh & a note for the Poles and Mr Tusk: miners may want jobs - but these could equally could come from, for example, insulating the Polish housing stock. The work insulating houses is tough and needs good team work - which describes exactly coal-mining (but with the advantage that when insulating houses one is not stuck down a dangerous dark hole for 10hrs per day - something to thing about eh?).

lighthouse's picture

Also: Energy saving is not the only advantage a product can have.
Unfortunately, mandating reduced energy use of a given product affects perfomance, usability etc apart from price

The effects with rebound increased use of effectively cheaper usage, and several other factors mitigating supposed savings, also play a part

Counter-argument to energy efficiency regulations on Housing, Cars, Washing Machines, Light Bulbs etc:


Mike Parr's picture

Mr Lighthouse: the link you show is to a USA-centric site which talks, mostly, nonsense.

Taking the example of lighting, my discussions with the UK's TSO National Grid indicate that, high efficiency/low energy light bulbs are already having an impact on power demand. It is entirely possible to have products that provide the same (or better) performance and use less energy.

lighthouse's picture

Links from the website include UK Cambridge research and EU Commission official statistics as well as US Dept of Energy ... hardly "nonsense".

Especially with lighting: Also power stations
DEFRA UK data shows main incandescent lighting use after 7pm -- and coal being the main concern, base loading coal plants are on minimum night cycle
(not lowered for operational slowness/ wear and tear etc reasons) having surplus output covering whatever bulb you use - that's if coal used in the first place.

Cambridge University Scientific Alliance statement, analysing the EU data behind the light bulb regulations that started 2009

"The total reduction in EU energy use would be 0.54 x 0.8 x 0.76% = 0.33%,
This figure is almost certainly an overestimate,
particularly as the inefficiency of conventional bulbs generates heat which supplements other forms of heating in winter.
Which begs the question: is it really worth it?
Politicians are forcing a change to a particular technology which is fine for some applications but not universally liked, and which has disadvantages.
The problem is that legislators are unable to tackle the big issues of energy use effectively, so go for the soft target of a high profile domestic use of energy...
...This is gesture politics."

Mike Parr's picture

oh dear more hyper nonsense.

DEFRA - whilst they cover environment - the Uk dept with respect to energy is DECC & I have plenty of studies showing highly positive impacts wrt to energy consumption from CFLs and LEDs. I also have studies (funded by DECC that measured HH lighting consumption at a satistically significant number of houses in the UK (over a year) and found that lighting (with low penetrations of CFL & LED( accounted for in the range 12 to 18% of overall elec power consumption. I mentioned Nat Grids data/experience - you know - empirical stuff - proof if you want or have you switched on your cognitive dissonance sub-routine?

Regarding incandescent heat generation - yes - at the ceiling. Hmm most useful - perhaps that is where you sit?

Keep it up - it's entertaining - I need a laugh