Bendtsen: We need pension fund investment to kickstart renovation revolution

Bendt Bendtsen has been working on legislation to make Europe more energy efficient since the first directives were introduced in 2010. [Bendt Bendtsen Presse/Flickr]

Pension funds are looking to invest and interest rates are low, according to the lead MEP on the EU’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Unlocking that capital will boost low renovation rates, increase energy efficiency and cut household bills, Bendt Bendtsen told

Conservative People’s Party lawmaker Bendt Bendtsen (EPP) has been working on legislation to make Europe more energy efficient since the first directives were introduced in 2010.

Bendtsen spoke with EURACTIV‘s Janie Matthews.

What are the major challenges in making Europe’s buildings more energy efficient?

Our focus is on three points I believe deserve special attention. First, the long-term planning is a good strategy to achieve the climate and energy target for 2050, and therefore the buildings must contribute more.

We must get member states to commit and deliver, and we need to do it cost effectively. So, therefore, we need to something about the 75% of inefficient buildings in Europe. We need to focus on financing. We have a lot of public money now, but what’s needed is to unlock capital from private pension funds. Investment is very, very important. We want a more ambitious approach when it comes to private financing —we must not make it too burdensome.

Can you secure agreement across the political groups in the European Parliament?

I’ve started negotiations before we make our draft, I want to include as many things as possible. I know it’s important to get more than 500 votes behind my draft. If we want a good result with member countries we need to have a strong support, so that’s why I’m listening.

What political challenges will the bill face?

A lot of members are focusing on energy poverty. We need to discuss many more points in the negotiations, but I really look forward to cooperating and hearing all views on the proposal, which priorities they have around our table and what we all can agree on. We will lower the energy bills, we want to create jobs and reach our goals. We are different political parties, but we have an opportunity to get a good result.

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How are you planning to increase renovation rates? Not everyone can afford to renovate their homes, so how can you encourage people to reach into their pockets?

Many pension funds are looking for places where they can invest their money, and interest rates are low in Europe. We need to find some solutions so that we can get more renovations. It’s very important that member states get a good long term building renovation strategies, because we can’t do this alone in European Parliament. We have to cooperate with member states to get something positive out of this.

So will comfort in the home be a part of the final bill?

Yes, as mentioned, I really think a more efficient building stock will lower energy bills and give us a better comfort in our energy efficient buildings, and make Europe more sustainable and less dependent on imports. I need to find a common line for the Parliament, and I’ll work for that.

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As far as the 2030 goals, the EU has a draft goal of 30% by 2030. Parliament wants 40% and member states have called for 27%. What is a reasonable goal here?

I think a reasonable goal is around 30%, I’m not worried, and I think we’ll go beyond that. We have the tools in our toolbox to reach that goal. Member states are afraid they will get too many expenditures and they’re blocking a bit in that area, but we have a lot of low hanging fruit. When we reach 2030, we are beyond that.

A quick final question, what more could European institutions be doing to increase the rate of building renovations in Europe?

We have to look at the whole energy packet, it is not one directive. We have renewables, energy efficiency, market design, etc.  All these things together will create an Energy Union with more competitiveness and a more sustainable Europe, bring down CO2 emissions, lower energy bills and make us less reliant on imports.

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