A call for more ambitious 2030 energy efficiency targets

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

In Council, some conservative Member States are attempting to lower the ambition on concrete measures for achieving energy efficiency, warns Benedek Jávor. [Shutterstock]

A report from the European Commission’s own research centre triggers an interesting debate by showing that the EU is well on track to reach its headline 2020 energy efficiency target. The 2030 target should be more ambitious as a result, writes Marion Santini.

Marion Santini is a member of The Coalition for Energy Savings.

The report also shows that there is significant room for manoeuvre to achieve further structural changes. As energy consumption falls much faster than projected, the EU and member states have both the political space to increase its 2030 ambition for energy efficiency and the societal mandate to step up the much needed investments in our ageing building and transport infrastructure.

Member states, in the context of the Energy Efficiency Directive, have the lead in defining energy efficiency strategies adapted to national circumstances and encourage the creation of local jobs and growth.

These policies are encouraging the burgeoning of an energy efficiency market which today needs a strong signal to sustain the falling energy consumption trends in the longer term.

Opting for a target of 27% energy efficiency by 2030, the minimum set by the European Council in 2014, would mean slowing down efficiency improvements – and therefore these market developments.

As it is about to release its energy efficiency package, a long-expected piece of its Energy Union suite of proposals, the Commission should look at how energy efficiency policies implemented by the EU and its member states in the past years are bringing change for citizens, SMEs and larger companies in Europe, and encourage the continuation and the scale up of this change.

If it makes economic sense for an individual, a company, or a public authority to invest in energy efficiency, the institutional framework should encourage it. That is why the European Parliament is supporting a 40% target based on the cost-effective energy savings potential. Such a target would help lift investment barriers and encourage the development of the energy efficiency market.

Although President Juncker, during his nomination hearing in the European Parliament, said he could not imagine less than a 30% binding target for 2030, the European Commission is still undecided on the number it will propose as part of the energy efficiency package in October.

The Commission should be encouraged to:

  • Give life to the “energy efficiency first” principle, notably by providing decision makers with the right information about the societal costs and benefits of energy efficiency policies and realistic energy projections trends;
  • Propose a 2030 target based on the energy savings cost-effective potentials, evaluated at 40% by 2030;
  • Encourage a regular and predictable growth of the energy efficiency market, notably through the consolidation of Article 7 of the Energy Efficiency Directive;
  • Set up an accountable delivery mechanism for the target to reinforce investors’ certainty and ensure a fairer comparison of supply and demand solutions.

This is readily achievable!

Businesses across Europe, including SMEs, will thrive and will deliver services and products to improve our lives. Technology is there. Financing is there. Political signal is missing.

Renovating leaky buildings, replacing wasteful equipment and technologies, updating production facilities and building an efficient and clean mobility system is in the interest of the people.

This is real.

This has an impact on local jobs and our socio-economic foundations. This can bring together residents of a same community around common projects. This can help households to control energy costs. This can improve the quality of the air we breathe and our comfort, while fighting climate change. This can set the framework for small and larger companies to increase profit.

This is a positive project for Europe.

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