A little after midnight on 14 June, the European Parliament, Commission and presidency agreed on a legislative proposal on energy efficiency and savings, in hopes that it will help the EU reach its goal of cutting energy use by 20% by 2020.
But many groups opposed the revised Energy Efficiency Directive, saying it’s watered down and fails to meet the mark. Worry has begun to sink in because projections showed that the EU isn’t even halfway to reaching its goal, lagging behind at only 9%.
The Green Party released a statement pushing for more to be done in order to reach the 2020 target. Claude Turmes, Green MEP and lead negotiator for the legislation, praised the EU institutions for coming to an agreement but warned that the deal doesn’t satisfy requirements needed to meet its target.
“Unfortunately, EU governments were not willing to agree to more ambitious measures, which would have fully delivered the 20% target,” Turmes said. “This means the European Commission must propose new additional measures, such as on car fuel efficiency, to fully close the gap.”
Intense debates over the proposal have watered down the target closer to a 15% energy savings. In the text, the 20% energy savings target remains non-binding, which dilutes incentives for member states to achieve that goal. Many organizations were unhappy with the negotiations.
WWF European Policy Office accused the EU of putting the 20% energy savings target on the back burner. “The Council substantially watered down text from the Commission and especially the Parliament,” said Arianna Vitali, policy officer for energy conservation at WWF. “This deal reflects neither the ambition nor the urgency needed to put the EU on the right path towards 2020.”
Vitali also said the changed directive would cause member states to miss benefits such as job creation, reductions in energy bills and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that could come from a fully functioning legislation.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) was another group against the negotiated directive, saying that it missed the mark in building renovation.
“Countries have committed to deliver energy savings by putting an obligation on energy utilities to make energy savings, but gaping loopholes remain and lack of ambition stands in the way of an effective directive,” said Agathe Ernoult, EEB energy policy officer. “Worse, there is no guarantee that their commitment will be invested in the most important sector: building renovation.”
Buildings account for about 40 percent of EU energy use. The original draft included renovation provisions for buildings, but debates have reduced those provisions so that many buildings wouldn’t be covered by the final text. For example, Britain exempted defense and military buildings from the directive.
The directive would call for required utilities to deliver energy savings equivalent to 1.5% of annual sales. That percentage has been reduced to almost 1%.
But the EPP Group is for the legislation and thinks it allows for flexibility in national requirements, which would help countries be more successful in reaching the 2020 goal. Markus Pieper, an MEP who is in charge of the Energy Efficiency Directive for EPP, said states will have to put in measures — either energy saving obligations or alternative measures — that will lead to the 1.5% energy savings. EPP sees the watered-down version as a practical solution.
With so many opponents, all attention will be focused on whether the directive will succeed.