Brussels set to ignore potential of energy savings

19 June 2014

EU bosses in Brussels yesterday agreed to recommend that Europe aims to reduce its energy use by 27% by 2030, Friends of the Earth Europe has learned.

A 27% energy savings target for 2030 is "pitifully weak" and far below the EU's real energy savings potential according to the environmental campaign group.

European Commission President Barroso and Commissioners Oettinger (Energy) and Hedegaard (Climate) met to agree amongst themselves the figure as part of the package of climate and energy measures for 2030 the EU is seeking to adopt this year. Their recommendation will need to be formally discussed and adopted by other Commission departments.

The proposed target would only be indicative according to sources, meaning member states would face no penalties for not meeting it. This ignores the need for a higher binding target to reduce energy imports, boost employment and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the Commission's own impact assessment, a 28% savings target would reduce gas imports by just 16% compared to 2010 levels, while a 40% target would reduce imports by 40%. EU employment is projected to increase by 1.6% by 2030 with a 28% savings target, compared to 3.1% with a 40% savings target.

A 27% target is also a blunt rejection of calls from a group of countries led by Denmark and Germany to recommend an ambitious, binding energy savings target.

Brook Riley of Friends of the Earth Europe said: "A 27% energy savings target is pitifully weak and incomprehensible at a time when the EU is crying out for a way to reduce dependence on Russian gas. Why did the Commission bother to carry out in-depth research showing the huge socio-economic benefits of an ambitious energy savings target, if it was only going to discard it? It's now vital that Germany, Denmark and the other progressive EU member states reject the Commission's position and press for more cuts in energy use."

Friends of the Earth Europe believes Europe needs to embrace energy savings: the cleanest, safest and cheapest energy is the energy we don't use.