NoMoreDirtyEnergy

Op-Eds

EU’s risky energy efficiency debate

Since EU governments started negotiating their position on the revision of the bloc’s energy efficiency laws, proposals have been going from bad to worse. Member states have to step their game up, warns Dora Petroula.

This op-ed was first published on Euractiv on 17 May 2017

Tomorrow the negotiations will reach the Energy Ministers at the Informal Energy Council. So far, talks on the European Commission’s proposal for a review of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) have been moving in the wrong direction.

EU countries are considering diluting the Commission’s already weak 2030 30% energy efficiency target by suggesting it should not be binding. They are also seeking ways to water down the cornerstone of the EED – the requirement to save energy every year.

Thanks to the EED, member states have to save energy that corresponds to 1.5% of energy sold to consumers every year. On the ground, this can translate into support for home insulation, double-glazing installation, or more efficient appliances and heating systems.

Member states can choose different ways to fulfil this obligation. They can choose to establish an Energy Efficiency Obligation (EEO) scheme.

Under such schemes companies that supply, sell or distribute energy have to deliver the required savings by helping citizens and businesses improve energy efficiency and reduce energy waste at home or at work.

Countries can also enact other policies, such as providing funding opportunities for the renovation of buildings.

The requirement to save energy every year was put in place to accelerate action on energy efficiency. Evidence so far indicates that it is working.

Member states have planned nearly 500 measures to meet the requirement. The majority of them target the building sector. According to national experts, the obligation helped create new business models for energy efficiency.

Current evidence also shows that the cost of saving one unit of energy is much lower than the cost of supplied energy. The multiple benefits of energy efficiency, such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, increased comfort, job creation and improved competitiveness make the case for the savings obligation even stronger.

One would expect that member states would be happy to improve upon this existing energy efficiency legislation. Yet despite the benefits, countries are considering lowering the annual savings objective from 1.5 to 1.4% after 2020 and removing a provision that would ensure that the requirement to deliver energy savings will continue beyond 2030.

Member states use the need for more flexibility as an excuse. But flexibility does not mean doing less, it means having the freedom to decide how to deliver the required savings. The legislation is built with this in mind, as countries can choose different measures to address their national circumstances.

In addition, countries are already allowed to reduce their efforts by using a set of loopholes. These loopholes reduce the average savings to be delivered to 0.75% per year instead of the envisaged 1.5%.

At the moment, there is hardly any discussion on the need to raise the level of ambition of the Commission’s weak proposal, for instance by closing the loopholes. Yet strong action on energy efficiency is absolutely necessary for achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Energy efficiency is the most direct way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The race to weaken the legislation will not stop unless governments step up to the plate and defend ambition on energy efficiency.

We need champions that will prevent the savings obligation from being watered down and support the tools we have to speed up the energy transition. Now it is the time to take advantage of the opportunities from the Paris Agreement.

Contact Communications

ANIA

Ania Drążkiewicz
Communications Coordinator
Focus: EU climate & energy policies, UNFCCC
ania /at/ caneurope.org
Work: +32 2894 4675
Mobile: +32 494 525 738 

Nicolas

Nicolas Derobert
Communications Coordinator 
Focus: fossil fuel subsidies, coal phase out
nicolas /at/ caneurope.org 
Work: +32 2894 4673
Mobile: +32 483 621 888

Latest Publications

  • Report: Juncker Plan backs billions in fossil fuels and carbon-heavy infrastructure

    The European Union is set to continue a funding tool that in last two years has lent billions of euros for fossil fuels projects, finds a new study from CEE Bankwatch Network, CAN Europe, Counter Balance and WWF European Policy Office.
  • Joint NGO statement on the ETS revision

    Being serious about the Paris Agreement:Stop the ETS funding coal, Start a meaningful carbon price This Agreement [...] aims to [...] making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development. Paris Agreement, Article 2(1)c We, the undersigned, urgently appeal to Representatives of European Parliament, Council and the European Commission to ensure that European power and industry are put on the right track to rapidly and cost-effectively reduce their carbon emissions. The European Union was instrumental in designing the Paris Agreement. Now it must implement it. On 8th November, the aforementioned decision-makers will discuss final changes to the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for the post-2020 period. It is vital that these changes enable the ETS to help deliver the Paris commitments. The recently published UNEP report underlines the urgency to act now in order to ensure that the 1.5°C target remains attainable [1]. One important discussion topic will be the design of the ETS funds. It is crucial that ETS funds stop subsidizing coal plants. We are glad to see that the European Parliament as well as seven Member States [2] have called for ending this misuse of funds. To reach the “well below two degrees” goal agreed at Paris, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) modelling shows that unabated coal in Europe must fall to zero by 2030: This means that the ETS must no longer fund this obsolete and polluting technology and needs to accelerate a socially just transition instead. The second crucial topic is how to ensure a meaningful carbon price that drives decarbonisation throughout the 2020s and beyond. This can only happen if the cap on the ETS emissions continues to tighten in line with the Paris climate goals, and is adjusted downwards to account for progress. Without this change, the EU carbon market will remain on an inadequate decarbonisation trajectory and risks another decade of irrelevance, leaving the EU lagging behind on green growth and innovation. Fundamentally, the EU ETS must ensure a meaningful carbon price in line with the Paris climate goals, while at the same time stop subsidizing high-carbon intensity technologies such as coal. We count on your support. Kind regards, Carbon Market WatchCEE Bankwatch NetworkCenter for Transport and EnergyChange PartnershipClimate Action Network (CAN) EuropeEfdeN RomaniaInternational Young NaturefriendsSandbagWWF EPOYoung European Federalists11.11.11 Notes: [1] Under current trends, it is expected that in 2030 global efforts to remain on a 1.5°C pathway are 16 to 19 GtCO2 off track. UNEP (2017). The Emissions Gap Report 2017. Available here. [2] Non-paper by Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK Joint NGO statement on the ETS revision
  • Letter to Ambassadors on Governance ahead of COREPER meeting on 27 October

    This letter was sent ahead of the COREPER meeting on the 27th of October 2017 Dear Ambassador, During the meeting of COREPER on 27 October you will have the opportunity to provide political guidance on several elements of the Governance regulation, mainly on defining a framework to ensure the delivery of the renewable energy target (Articles 4, 5, 25, 27). The Governance regulation is a key building block of a successful Energy Union, and the nest for many requirements set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Briefing on Aligning the EIB Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) with the Paris Agreement

    The European Investment Bank (EIB) is being reviewing its Emissions Performance Standard (EPS) in 2017. Its EPS is part of the EIB Energy Lending Criteria1 adopted in July 2013, and set at a level of 550 g CO2/kWh.
See All: Climate & Energy Targets