No bright ideas at EU energy summit

4 February 2011

European Heads of State met today in Brussels for a special energy summit. Priority subjects on the agenda were energy efficiency, security of imports and an integrated internal energy market.

Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for a binding target to drive down Europe's energy consumption. Without stronger action the environmental group is concerned that energy savings will remain a voluntary policy that European countries have largely ignored.

Brook Riley, climate justice and energy campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe stated: "Heads of State today faced up to the fact that Europe is not on track to meet its target for reducing energy use by 20% by 2020 but they stopped short of recommending binding legislation – this is a mistake. The cheapest, cleanest and most secure energy is that which a country doesn't need and the first priority should be to make the EU's 2020 energy savings target mandatory. A binding target for energy savings would contribute to solving the climate crisis, reduce household bills by up to 1000 Euros every year, and create millions of green jobs."

During the last revision of the summit conclusions, a reference was added to controversial shale gas exploration within the Europe.

Darek Urbaniak, extractive industries campaigner with Friends of the Earth Europe said: "The European Union's decision to assess the potential of unconventional fossil fuel sources within Europe, notably shale gas, is the wrong way to address import dependency. Shale gas poses unacceptable risks to the local environment and will lock us in to the continued use of fossil fuels. A binding energy savings target is the best way of ensuring energy security."

Meeting the EU's current 20% energy efficiency target for 2020 would cut CO2 emissions by 800 million tonnes, create up to a million new jobs, slash dependence on energy imports, save over €1000 per year per household, and avoid the construction of about 1000 coal power plants [1].

Friends of the Earth Europe staged an action outside today's meeting to call on EU leaders to adopt a binding energy savings target. Campaigners representing Herman van Rompuy, Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy re-created the Archimedes' 'Eureka moment'. Herman Van Rompuy, naked in a bath, had the bright idea of energy savings. Images are available at:

Friends of the Earth groups around Europe [2] have launched a campaign to call for a binding European energy saving target, and strong and social policies at the local and national level to ensure that every country contributes to saving energy [3].


[1] COM(2008) 772: Energy efficiency: delivering the 20% target

[2] The campaign will involve Friends of the Earth groups in Austria, Czech Republic, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Scotland Slovenia and Spain.

[3] See downloads.