In order to maintain the Europe's momentum when it comes to energy reduction and saving, the EU are now mulling over a 35% reduction target for 2030. EurActiv picked up on a draft for its scheduled 'energy efficiency review' which says that a 35% reduction would be needed to reap the benefits of jobs and growth, and stabilise energy security.
The target, which may seem overly ambitious, is to remain non-binding until at least 2017, meaning that it would currently only be a guideline for member states. It will be based on an absolute and definitive reduction in primary energy usage across the EU, equating to 1312 million tonnes of oil-equivalent energy. While the target is only indicitive, it does show the EU's intentions regarding energy policy in the coming years and it's a good sign for all those concerned with rising energy costs and the renewables debate.
EurActiv themselves carried out research a week prior to the paper being released, which illustrate the impact higher efficiency targets would have on GDP growth, jobs, energy security and emissions cuts - all positive in their own way.
New target likely to be in excess of 30%
While the top commissioners of the EU were able to agree on an energy reduction plan, the fabled 40% target for a reduction in carbon emissions never materialised and no agreement was made. EU President, Jose Manuel Barroso, is openly sympathetic to a robust and effective energy savings target however, and has given green lights all round to energy and climate commissioners to push for a target higher than 25%. A number closer to 30% or 35% remains likely.
The EU's Secretary General, Catherine Day, has opposed these 'excessive' figures, saying she is holding out for a more sensible figure of 25%-27% in the interests of cost effectiveness. Another official who is openly opposing the ambitious energy savings target said, “The bottom line is that this [target] has to be fully in line with the rest of the 2030 package, it has to be politically acceptable, it also has to be technically feasible. If you have a higher energy efficiency target then that has implications for costs in the non-ETS (Emissions Trading System) sectors, especially for some member states.”
What about businesses?
There are a number of business who are currently supporting the idea that ambitious energy saving goals are the most cost effective way to cut emissions and secure our energy future. Just this week some leading European businesses reiterated their call for an ambitious EU-wide energy saving target. The call from a host of blue-chip companies that specialise in energy efficient equipment, including Kingspan, Knauf Insulation, Opower, Philips, Schneider Electric and Siemens, was orchestrated by the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE). It follows a similar letter sent to Commission President José Manuel Barroso by ministers from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal that also urged the Commission to support a binding efficiency target for 2030.
EU-ASE have argued that the upfront cost of investing in an ambitious energy efficiency plan would be offset by energy savings that would be made in the 2020's. In other words, spending now to save later. It estimates that this energy saving could be as high as 1 trillion euros. As such, EU-ASE are now piling pressure onto the European Commission to come up with a binding and official target - at the moment these targets are nothing more than a signpost for member states.
There's no doubt that the recent crisis in the Ukraine and Russia's complete dominance the energy imports market have had an impact on Brussel's renewed interest in energy policy. The division doesn't stop with EU commission though, there's divide among the countries themselves. Germany and Denmark are very much driving the campaign for 30% and 35% energy saving targets for 2030. But they face opposition from a number of Eastern European countries with outdated heating sytems that would require extensive overhauls if they are to meet the target. The UK has also argued against binding technology specific targets, on gthe grounds that a single tough emissions reduction goal would allow individual nations to decide how best to curb emissions.
The president of EU-ASE, Monica Frassoni, however commented that an ambtitious energy saving goal would help to stimulte investment in the energy efficiency sector and aid in delivering cost effective emissions reductions. She said, "The Commission must objectively look at the best options for our society to decarbonise, safeguard our energy security and keep our economy competitive. Never before has real action on energy efficiency been so crucial for Europe. This is not time to play politics."
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