Blue Chips call for binding EU energy saving target

Date: 18 March 2014

Philips, Siemens and GE amongst group of 31 firms to call on EU leadership to deliver more ambitious energy efficiency policy

A group containing some of Europe’s largest companies have today called on Brussels to place energy efficiency at the heart of the bloc’s new climate and energy strategy for 2030 when member states’ leaders meet to discuss the proposed package on Thursday.

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) today wrote to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who holds the revolving EU presidency, urging them to deliver a binding target for energy efficiency improvements as part of the new strategy.

The letter, which was signed by senior executives from 31 companies, including General Electric, Kingspan, Philips, Saint-Gobain Isover, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and Unilever, argues that drastic improvements in energy efficiency would represent one of the most effective ways of cutting carbon emissions, reducing economic costs, and enhancing the bloc’s energy security.

“We believe that the European debate should not be framed as if there is a choice between competitiveness and taking action on climate change,” the letter states. “The business community represented by the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) believes this is a false choice. By improving energy efficiency Europe can drive forward its competiveness, energy security and climate change objectives.”

It adds that cost effective energy efficiency measures could save the EU between €1tr and €2tr during the 2020s by reducing energy costs and imports. “Delivering these energy efficiency savings will generate jobs across all Member States, radically reduce energy import costs and increase manufacturing investment in the EU,” the letter states.

The European Council of member states is divided on whether or not to include binding technology targets covering energy efficiency and renewables as part of the new 2030 package. A number of countries have argued the bloc should focus on delivering a binding emissions reduction target of 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030, while leaving member states free to decide how the target should be met. But others have argued binding targets for renewables and energy efficiency will provide greater policy certainty and will help mobilise more clean tech investment.

The council is set to consider a compromise proposal that would introduce a binding emissions target of 40 per cent, as well as an EU wide target requiring renewables to provide 27 per cent of energy by 2030 that is not backed by specific member state targets and a commitment to consider a strengthening of energy efficiency policy as part of an energy efficiency directive review to be undertaken later this year.

However, the EU-ASE is demanding a clearer role for energy efficiency in the new policy framework, and has called on EU leaders to acknowledge that “energy efficiency is fundamental to European competitiveness and must be the foundation of future energy and climate policy” and ensure the European Commission develops “new proposals for binding energy efficiency goals and measures by October 2014”.

“European leaders have a unique chance to put the Climate and Energy package right at this week’s European Council if they open their eyes to the potential of energy efficiency,” said EU-ASE president Monica Frassoni. “The opportunities for increasing competitiveness, stimulating sustainable growth and creating local jobs are absolutely enormous – this is why 31 of some of the world’s leading corporations have written to the European Council today calling on them to make energy efficiency the foundation of the EU’s Climate and Energy policy.”

The letter comes on the same day as the UK’s CBI called on European leaders to confirm plans for an ambitious emissions reduction target as part of the new poloicy package.

“Progress towards setting an ambitious but credible emissions reduction target of 40 per cent for 2030 is crucial for British businesses at the European Council,” said Nicola Walker, CBI director for business environment. “Alongside long-term reform of the Emissions Trading System, this target will help to deliver a more robust carbon price at EU level and drive vital investment.”

However, she warned that the ambitious new emissions targets and the likely increase in the price of carbon that will result needed to be accompanied by improved financial support for energy intensive industries that could be hit by higher energy prices.

And she reiterated that the CBI remains sceptical about the case for technology specific targets as a part of the new package. “We urge all Member States to make this package a reality as soon as possible, giving flexibility to different countries to meet it in the most cost-effective way,” she said.

Source: BusinessGreen.com