Political Energy Efficiency Swings and Roundabouts

Wednesday 13th June 2012

I rarely understand politics and politicians - there seems to be many contradictions in what they say and do, and as far as energy efficiency it is just as confusing - or is it just me and my simplicity. The swings and roundabouts of politics certainly set my head spinning at times.

I am delighted to see increasing numbers of policies to promote and sometimes force energy saving and efficiency, with politicians calling and crying for action. They then take the plaudits, but then they seem to drag their feet when it comes to taking action.

I know this is nothing new for politicians, it is always compromise and trade off, but they then get behind statements that the future needs to be seriously considered, they will state action has to be taken now or we face doom. They will also claim that sustainability will produce a stronger economy and many, many jobs - all needed in these difficult fiscal conditions.

I understand there is a lot of hyperbole in politics and sustainability, but the underlining message is that something has to be done and action taken now, but how often politicians drag their feet.

The political scene is different across the globe, but in reality not a lot changes in the motivations within politics, or anyone else come to that.

Europe and the EU is a good example. The Danish Presidency, a six-month appointment, started in a blaze of publicity about how they would drive through the European Commission authored EU Energy Directive, that aimed to improve energy efficiency across the bloc.

The corporate world also called for the directive to be adopted, and sooner rather than later, along with a compulsory 20% energy efficiency target. The Danish trumpeted that they would push it through - but although they held the presidency that does not mean they had the power.

The Danish, with what I would think a little bit of political naivety, soon found that not all the other politicians across europe, particularly the national politicians, agreed with their view.

Plus, with many national corporations also prompting their local politicians to prevent measures that would cost them money to improve their energy efficiency and reduce their emissions, the Directive faced hurdles.

At the same time, the claim that money, jobs and futures can be saved through improving energy efficiency being universally accepted across Europe and the business world. The Danes 'got it' but the rest seemed to miss the importance of action instead of vacillation.

The Danish EU Presidency is about to end, July 1, and Malta will take on the mantle, they have already said they are not putting the EU Energy Directive to the fore, so as always in politics it is a case of two steps forward and at the most one, if not two, back.

Progress has been made, the Directive will probably be adopted, but in a much watered down state because the various national governments across europe forced out many of the more effective measures that had been suggested.

It was never hugely controversial or dramatic in its suggested policies, but these ‘guys’ are looking at the short term and their positions in their own governments than the long term future of the people who put them there.

On the positive side, the corporate and financial world is making progress, and everyday I read news stories of incentives and actions from banks and large corporations to promote, incentivise and finance energy efficiency and sustainability.

Plus the general movement from politics globally is forward as far as sustainability is concerned, albeit at the two forward one back speed.

One thing is certain, it will change as more and more people understand the climatic challenge mankind is facing. The young are being educated in sustainability, they will be the ones most affected by climate change and are beginning to provide the pressure for political action.

So all in all energy efficiency, sustainability and all those involved in it have busy futures to meet the ever increasing demand and need, despite the wall of politics that is bit by bit being broken down.

Picture of the European Parliament Hemicycle of European Parliament, Strasbourg, by inyucho derivative work: Saibo (Δ) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Categories: General

Wednesday 13th June 2012

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