Piebalgs proposes 75 actions to slash energy consumption

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Europeans should change their light bulbs, switch off TV’s and computers, drive ‘green’ cars and insulate their houses to reach the Commission’s ambitious target of 20% energy savings by 2020.

The Energy Efficiency Action Plan will be introduced over a period of six years. More than 75 actions were identified in ten priority areas:

  • New energy performance standards for different product groups such as boilers, copiers, TVs, lighting (from 2007);
  • new energy standards for buildings and promoting low-energy buildings (“passive houses”) (2008-9);
  • making power generation and distribution more efficient (2007-8);
  • possible legislation to limit CO2 emissions from cars to 120g/km by 2012 (2007);
  • facilitate bank financing for investments in energy efficiency by SMEs and energy service companies (2007-8);
  • boosting efficiency in new member states;
  • coherent use of taxation with the preparation of a Green Paper on indirect taxation in 2007;
  • awareness and education campaigns;
  • improving energy efficiency in urban areas through a “Covenant of Mayors” (to be created in 2007) which will exchange best practices, and;
  • international agreements to foster energy efficiency worldwide.

It is questionable whether all these actions to improve energy efficiency will also reduce energy consumption (see EURACTIV 18 October).

 

First industry reactions to the proposed action plan were in general positive, but some warned of the competitiveness implications of future legislative measures.

Eurochambres warned against "any measures, such as requirements set too tightly or increased bureaucracy, that might endanger competitiveness of EU firms vis-à-vis their international competitors". The association which represents European Chambers of Commerce, stressed the need for impact assessments of all future legislative proposals.

The European household appliances manufacturers (grouped in CECED) also welcomed the "innovative ideas" of the Commission but pointed to the need for an "increased focus on proper enforcement" of regulation. CECED Director-General Luigi Meli asked for tax credits for producers and presented a commissioned report which concludes that "credits on manufacturers’ corporate income taxes are, in comparison with traditional rebate schemes, more advantageous for manufacturers and fiscally neutral for governments".

The Association Euroheat & Power (which represents the district heating and cooling industry) was less enthusiastic. The action plan "misses the potential to reduce fossil fuel use in heating and cooling", the association said in its press release. 

Environmental organisations Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and WWF "hailed the energy efficiency target" but warned also that "the Energy Efficiency Action Plan falls short of proposing legislation that would put Europe on track to meet the target". For green NGOs, the plan is seen as being particularly weak in the area of transport. "The plan neglects commercial transport, barely mentions new measures to improve public transport and fails to encourage the much needed modal shift from road to rail".

On 19 October, Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs presented his action plan to cut Europe's energy consumption by 20% in the next 14 years. If succesful, the EU could save more than 100 billion euro per year. The plan would also help to cut the EU's CO2 emissions and therefore contribute to reaching the Kyoto targets.

  • The EU leaders, meeting in Lahti on 20 October, will have a first debate on the action plan
  • A mid-term review of the action plan will be undertaken in 2009.

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