This article is part of our special report Resource Efficiency.
Only four EU countries are on course to meet their energy efficiency target for 2020, while the Union is broadly on track to meet its renewable energy and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, the European Environment Agency says in a new report.
In the report released yesterday (9 October), the EEA provides an overview of progress on the EU’s energy objectives for the year 2020.
These targets, also called the '20/20/20 targets', include a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 20% rise in the share of renewable resources to Europe’s energy needs, and 20% more efficiency in energy use across the EU.
The first objective is likely to be met as the EU reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 18% between 1990 and 2012. "The EU is very close to reaching [this target], eight years ahead of 2020,” and could even exceed its target by four percentage points, the report says. The fifteen EU member states that joined before 2004 (the so-called EU15) are doing even better, and are overachieving on their Kyoto Protocol targets by 5.5% on average, the report notes.
The second target, on renewable energy, is also on track. Renewables contributed 13% of the EU’s energy consumption in 2011, with their share expected to rise to 20% in 2020, just enough to reach the objective.
But hitting the third target on energy efficiency remains a great challenge, the report says, urging EU countries to take swift action to redress the situation.
Complex picture on national level
The EEA report paints a more complex picture at the member state level. Not a single country is on track to meet all three targets at the same time but none is lagging behind on all three targets at once either.
Hans Bruyninckx, the EEA's executive director, said that “to achieve the emissions cuts demanded by science, member States must ensure that they are not making choices today that become obstacles to a low carbon future”.
An overall assessment shows that Belgium, Estonia, Malta and Spain have the least to show for.
Six countries – Austria, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg and Spain – will have to step up their efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, even with policy measures in the pipeline, these countries are not expected to reach their CO2 reduction target.
On renewable energy sources, six member states – Belgium, France, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands and the UK – have failed to reach their 2011-2012 targets.
But energy efficiency comes out as the main area where member states should aim higher, with all but four countries lagging behind in terms of policy initiatives, due to insufficient enforcement and the impact of the economic crisis, the report says.
Yesterday (9 October), EURACTIV reported European Council President Herman Van Rompuy's call for a strategy on energy efficiency in Europe’s building stock, a sector that requires particular attention if the EU is to make its energy efficiency goals. In an unusually direct speech, Van Rompuy said that such a strategy could create two million new jobs in the EU.
The EU’s long-term budget, or multi-annual financial framework for 2014-2020, will more than double the amount of funding for energy efficiency in buildings to around €23 billion.