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EU Commission proposes 30% energy savings goal for 2030, to boost Europe's energy security and independence

Date
24 July 2014
EU Commission proposes 30% energy savings goal for 2030, to boost Europe's energy security and independence

LONDON: The European Commission has agreed an increased 30% energy efficiency target for 2030, in a move that could diminish over reliance on risky gas imports and deliver economic benefits to European businesses and citizens.

European Commissioners proposed the 30% energy efficiency goal in a Communication that will be put to the European Council and European Parliament, as part of the EU’s 2030 package of climate and energy measures.

It is hoped the bigger target will improve energy security as it will mean the EU won’t have to rely as much on natural gas imports from geo-politically risky countries such as Russia. Encouragingly, the European Commission points out that for every 1% in extra energy savings made, EU gas imports will drop by 2.6%.

Commenting on the new energy efficiency proposal, EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: "Today the Commission is sending a strong message on energy efficiency: a 30% energy savings target for 2030. This is of course very good news for the climate. It's also good news for investors, and it's very good news for Europe's energy security and independence. Meaning no such good news for Putin."

The proposed 30% builds on the 25% energy savings target that is required in order for Europe to reduce its carbon emissions 40% by 2030. The Commission explains the goal builds on from what EU has already achieved with its current energy efficiency polices. Notable gains to date include:

  • EU industry’s energy intensity dipped almost 19% between 2001 and 2011
  • New buildings now use half the amount of energy they used in the 1980s
  • More efficient household appliances are estimated to save people €100 billion a year by 2020

Günther H. Oettinger, Vice-President for the EU Commission responsible for energy, said in a statement: "Our proposal is the basis to drive the EU towards increased security of supply, innovation and sustainability, all in an affordable way. It is ambitious and at the same time it is realistic. The energy efficiency strategy will complete the 2030 framework on energy and climate which has been presented in January 2014. Our aim is to give the right signal to the market and encourage further investments in energy saving technologies to the benefit of businesses, consumers and the environment."

Forecasting longer term wins for European residents and businesses, the Commission also explains that new opportunities and jobs will be created for key sectors such as construction through the more ambitious target.

The tranche of benefits that will come with greater energy efficiency in Europe is no secret. A recent poll shows European people overwhelmingly support bold EU action on climate change, with 80% agreeing improved energy efficiency would boost the economy and employment.

Ernst and Young also highlighted how European households could save up to €474 billion on energy costs over the next 40 years if the EU prioritizes greater energy efficiency, in analysis last month.

Showcasing countries that are already boasting the biggest energy savings, a report released this week by the ACEEE revealed Germany is the world’s most energy efficient country. Other European countries including Italy and France also score well in the research.

Libby Ferguson, States & Regions Director at The Climate Group stressed the role sub-national leadership has played in propelling Germany’s climate action: "German members of the States & Regions Alliance are a driving force of innovative climate policies that are being shared across our global network. States such as North Rhine WestphaliaBaden-Wuerttemberg and Bavaria are realizing the economic benefits from being leaders in energy efficiency through impressive trade outcomes based on global demand for energy efficient products."

Last year the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive introduced binding measures to increase efficiency 20% by 2020 as part of the EU’s 2020 energy and climate goals. The EU’s plan also included a 20% portion of renewables in the bloc’s energy mix.

Speaking to The Climate Group last week, Dominique Ristori, Director General for Energy at the European Commission said: "The EU is well on track to reach its 2020 targets, and it is currently getting closer to 18-19% of increased energy efficiency. If this trend continues, by 2030 energy efficiency will play a key role for the EU to reach a 40% GHG target cost-effectively."

The European Commission will review progress of the energy efficiency target in 2017.

Read the Communication.

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By Clare Saxon

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