Regarding the Climate Change Package, many believe energy efficiency is one of the most useful and realistic means of reducing emissions - for private housing, public authorities, companies etc.
Does the Commission foresee this non-binding energy efficiency target becoming a binding one?
At the European Council in March 2007, EU Heads of State and Government committed themselves to three ambitious 20% objectives by 2020: (1) a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990, (2) an increase to 20% of the share of renewable energy sources in EU overall energy consumption and (3) a reduction of projected energy consumption by 20%.
For the European Union to achieve these objectives, energy efficiency is a crucial area where progress can be made. Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption while maintaining an equivalent level of economic activity. Improving energy efficiency also addresses the key energy challenges of climate change, energy security and competitiveness.
The 20% energy saving objective is non-binding as it has not been fixed by legislation. However, progress towards the emissions reduction and renewable energy sources targets will certainly trigger investments in energy efficiency improvement measures in the sectors of energy transformation, energy supply and industry. This will then contribute to the achievement of the 20% energy savings objective.
The Commission does not foresee making the saving objective binding, as it leaves more flexibility to the Member States to improve energy efficiency in their key energy consuming sectors according to their own strategies. However, the Commission is convinced that by combining efforts on the policy and implementation levels, the drive for energy efficiency could be increased and higher levels of energy savings achieved. The Commission adopted in 2006 the European Energy Efficiency Action Plan with the objective of mobilising policy makers and market actors to make buildings, appliances, means of transport and energy systems more energy efficient. The implementation of the Action Plan is ongoing and should be completed by 2012. A comprehensive energy efficiency package of proposals and decisions was recently adopted by the Commission on 13 November to strengthen efforts to deliver the 20% objective in 2020. The Commission will evaluate the European Energy Efficiency Action Plan in 2009.