EU energy efficiency proposal ‘devoid of true ambition’

Günther Oettinger speaking at a commission press conference

The European commission has proposed a non-binding 30 per cent energy savings target which “aims to strike the right balance between benefits and costs”.

Although the target goes beyond the 25 per cent energy savings target which, the commission says, would result in a 40 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030, the proposal has still come under fire for lacking “ambition”.

According to energy commissioner Günther Oettinger, “Our proposal is the basis to drive the EU towards increased security of supply, innovation and sustainability, all in an affordable way. It is ambitious and at the same time it is realistic.

“[The proposal]  is ambitious and at the same time it is realistic” – Günther Oettinger

“The energy efficiency strategy will complete the 2030 framework on energy and climate which has been presented in January 2014.

“Our aim is to give the right signal to the market and encourage further investments in energy saving technologies to the benefit of businesses, consumers and the environment,” said the German official.

But Greens/EFA deputy Claude Turmes felt differently, saying, “Nobody should be deceived by the spin, what the commission is proposing today on energy efficiency is devoid of true ambition, is not cost-effective and will prolong Europe’s dependency on fuel imports from Russia and other unreliable exporters.

“Saving energy is not just some fringe climate change policy, it has to be the central plank of a sustainable European energy union, aimed at reducing our dependence on costly energy imports, as well as at the heart of European foreign policy and geopolitical strategy,” he stressed.

“Nobody should be deceived by the spin, what the commission is proposing today on energy efficiency is devoid of true ambition” – Claude Turmes

“Incoming commission president [Jean-Claude] Juncker has already signalled significantly greater ambition on energy efficiency and we hope that he and EU governments will pursue this approach for the EU’s 2030 policy and not the business-as-usual policy being outlined today.

“The non-binding 2030 energy savings target of 30 per cent being proposed by the commission today is at odds with the commission’s own research on which the communication was supposed to be based,” accused the Luxembourgish politician.

His condemnation continued, “The scandalous political manipulation goes right to the top level of the commission, with commission president [José Manuel] Barroso, energy commissioner Oettinger and secretary general Catherine Day complicit in holding back an impact assessment, which made clear that it is in Europe’s interest to adopt a much more ambitious 2030 target.

“The impact assessment outlined that the most effective path for the EU to follow would be to adopt a 35 per cent energy savings target for 2030.

“Beyond mere cost effectiveness there are also other arguments, notably in terms of geopolitical influence and climate change, why Europe should push for an even more ambitious target,” said Turmes.

“We urge EU governments and incoming president Juncker not to follow today’s communication and to be far more ambitious for scaling back our dependence on [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s Russia, and moving Europe towards a sustainable energy future,” he concluded.

Brook Riley, a campaigner at environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Europe, said, “Europe is crying out for a way to reduce dependence on imported energy.

“Energy savings creates jobs, reduces emissions, and reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels” – Brook Riley

“The easiest, safest way to do this is to use less energy. Instead we’ve got a bafflingly weak target; it’s now up to the European council and parliament to push for more.”

“Many countries, including those hardest hit by the economic crisis, are calling for ambitious binding targets. Energy savings creates jobs, reduces emissions, and reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels,” he noted, adding, “In one move Barroso is ensuring Europe misses out on the environmental and economic benefits of saving energy.”

Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Frédéric Thoma said was also less than complimentary, saying, “In its dying days, the outgoing commission has tabled another gutless plan on energy that is a gift to the oligarchs of this world.

“It’s a no-brainer that EU leaders cannot ignore, they must put Europe’s energy policy back on track” – Frédéric Thoma

“An ambitious efficiency target would drastically cut the need for expensive imports of fossil fuels from Russia and elsewhere and help Europe stand up to bullies like Putin.

“The commission’s own research shows efficiency could also create three-and-a-half million jobs, while helping tackle climate change.

“It’s a no-brainer that EU leaders cannot ignore, they must put Europe’s energy policy back on track,” he urged.

 

Written for theparliamentmagazine.eu

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