European Union Needs to Get Moving on Energy Efficiency

Light Pollution

While the European Union is well on its way to reach or exceed its renewable energy and  emissions targets for 2020, there is one goal of its climate policies it likely won’t meet: energy efficiency.

According to the European Environment Agency,  the “collective primary energy consumption in 2020 is expected to be close to the level required by the EU political objective of 1,483 Mtoe but will remain insufficient to achieve the 20 % energy efficiency target.

This is even more puzzling as the evidence has been piling up on how energy saving measures could bring as much as 250 billion euros back into Europe’s economy, according to an Ecofys report last year.

In a post I published here in 2012, according to a study presented by the Renovate Europe Campaign, weatherizing European buildings alone could boost local GDP by up to 291 billion Euros ($370 billion) by 2017.

Energy efficiency is key in cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and further, creating thousands of green jobs and stopping giving ridiculous amounts of money to Russia every single day.

Indeed, I reported previously that the European Union 28 country members are giving as much as half a billion euros every single day to Russia for natural gas and oil.  The amounts total over 200 billion euros ( $277 billion ) a year.

Now here comes a new report from  the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) pointing out that:

“We are at a tipping point, with energy efficiency investing having the clear potential to emerge into the mainstream as a key driver of EU competitiveness, economic value, innovation and employment across Europe”

Both private and public investments are insufficient. If continued, this trend could lead certain EU members to miss their 2020 and longer term targets.

The EEFIG points out to the fact that cutting by no less than 40 percent the amount of energy used in buildings has a strategically important character because of rising energy prices.  Another factor is the increased climate change threat as the IPCC fifth report reported recently.

The institution provides several solutions, such as :

  • Requiring financial policy makers to consider long-term energy savings when taking decisions
  • Strengthening energy performance certificates, energy codes and legislative enforcement
  • Improving data flows for energy efficiency in buildings
  • Standardizing best practices for the energy efficiency investment market
  • Targeting priority use of EU structural investment funds and ETS revenues for public-private financial instruments between now and 2020

Needless to say, I will keep you updated of the progress – or the lack of it – in this area.  Let’s hope both the preparation of the EU 2030 energy and climate policies and the upcoming UNFCC meeting in 2015 won’t be missed opportunities in that regard.

Image credits : Wikimedia

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