EU energy legislation faces resistance

05.06.12 @ 09:26

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - With only a couple of weeks left in its six-month EU presidency, Denmark is pressing lawmakers in Brussels to finalise an energy saving deal to reduce overall energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020.

  • '[There is] a realisation that their earlier exaggerations have been damaging to [car makers'] image' (Photo: Oscar Caos)

The Danish EU presidency, which made energy efficiency one of its priorities, is meeting resistance from critics who claim the plans will stifle growth by requiring costly investments.

Member states agreed in 2007 to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2020. The objective is equivalent to saving some 368 million tonnes of oil, says the European Commission.

Reuters reports that some member states believe the 20 percent target to be overly ambitious and a 10 percent reduction is more likely, however. The UK, Germany and Austria claim savings already made domestically should be taken into account in the 2020 target.

Meanwhile, the commission is in July expected to review CO2 emission targets for vehicles. According to the European Environment Agency, road transport generates about a fifth of the EU's CO2 emissions, with passenger cars responsible for around 12 percent.

To cut emissions, carmakers are supposed to produce engines by 2020 that will only emit 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre as opposed to the current norm of 140g CO2/km.

A study commissioned by Greenpeace in May in 15 member states found that drivers could expect substantial savings on annual car fuel bills if the 95g CO2/km is met.

Annual fuel costs for drivers currently varies between a low of €1,235 in Luxembourg and up to €2,143 in Sweden. The Greenpeace study found that these prices would drop to €962 in Luxembourg to €1,551 in Sweden if the 95g CO2/km goes through.

While initially showing resistance to the idea, carmakers are now on track to meet an intermediary 2015 target of 130g CO2/km, with many expected to achieve it early.

Franziska Achterberg, Greenpeace’s EU transport policy expert, told EUobserver that carmakers are this time around more silent on the issue.

Achterberg suspects the silence may be because the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), a powerful pro-industry lobby, is divided on the 2020 CO2 emissions scheme.

"Volvo has come out in favour of the 2020 target, others such as Renault and Ford are privately in support, whereas VolksWagen and others aren't – [there is] a realisation that their earlier exaggerations have been damaging to their image," she said.

Commission vice president Antonio Tajani is this week due to meet a high-level expert group, called Cars 21, representing industry experts and interests.

"We expect carmakers to complain about the economic situation and Tajani to offer a package of measures to support them," said Achterberg.