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31st Oct 2020

EU energy efficiency directive is 'set up to fail', say critics

  • The EU is not on-track to achieving its energy efficiency target (Photo: Antonio)

Brussels is aware of the need for binding energy efficiency targets but has failed to propose them in its imminent energy savings directive, making it "set up to fail", say critics.

Scheduled for next Wednesday (22 June), the energy efficiency directive outlines ways in which member states can reduce energy wastage, stressing the potential for economic gains and added energy security.

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The directive lays down "requirements on the public sector, both as regards renovating the buildings it owns and applying high energy efficiency standards to the purchase of buildings," according to the latest version of text, seen by this website.

A three percent renovation rate for public buildings includes opt-outs for social housing however, with few details on private buildings. The transport sector is also excluded.

Governments must put in place a range of added-efficiency measures for the energy supply sector, including national plans to ensure energy retailers reduce customer consumption by 1.5 percent, compared to the previous year.

The directive notes that the EU is not on track to meet its non-binding energy efficiency goal, but delays a review to 2014 on whether to make this target mandatory.

"The commission's latest estimations ... suggest that the EU will achieve only half of the 20 percent target in 2020," says the draft text.

Sources say an internal commission impact assessment of the directive judges that only a binding target would deliver the required 20 percent savings, a point referred to by EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Thursday (16 June).

"It's no law of nature that many member states have continued to expand on renewables ... even during [the crisis years of] 2008, 2009 and 2010," Hedegaard said.

The EU is currently on track to meet its goal of securing 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020.

"I believe there is a link to the fact that we have a binding target for renewables, and I do not think it is a co-incidence ... that we are not on track to meet the non-binding energy efficiency target."

Member states are cautious about the added burden of imposing binding energy efficiency targets, but critics say the commission is preparing to publish a document in which it has little confidence itself.

"It's measures propose no clear targets and are the very opposite of concrete," said Brook Riley, energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth.

"The directive is set up to fail and the commission is pandering to the fears and lack of understanding in the member states who don't want more EU legislation."

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