EU Set for Crunch Energy Summit

Europe's lagging energy efficiency standards are emerging as a key issue ahead of a February meeting of European Union (EU) heads of state, EurActiv report.

Apparently several German ministries are discussing the country's positioning on energy efficiency standards ahead of the summit, including the Ministries of Environment, Energy, Finance and Foreign Affairs, and the Chancellor's Office.

"It really is a priority," a source in Berlin told EurActiv. "We've been discussing it internally and it is not an easy issue. In the end, it is the Chancellor who will want to say something."

It is understood that EU diplomats in the Committee of Permanent Representatives tasked with preparing for the summit's agenda discussed the energy efficiency issue in Brussels yesterday. If no agreement was reached, the subject could then be referred upwards.

"How best we can keep to the energy efficiency targets is one of the points where there is still some discussion needed at the Council if it's not solved before," an EU diplomat said. He added that there was presently no consensus on the best way to measure energy efficiency.

The EU is committed to a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption by 2020, a 20 percent increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix, and a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as measured against 1990 levels.

Energy efficiency is the only one of the three targets which is not binding on EU member states, leading European Commission officials to reveal that it is the only target which the EU is currently due to miss.

So far, the EU is estimated to have achieved reductions in energy consumptions of between nine and 11percent, but as we have reported on these pages previously nearly €8 billion of an EU energy savings fund is still unclaimed.

Despite José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president calling on member state to take “concrete” action on energy efficiency, he wouldn’t outwardly state the need for binding targets.

Although most observers and energy efficiency experts believe that a binding energy efficiency target is the only way to achieve the target reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy demand it appears that member states do not accept this views.
As an example a senior diplomatic source in Rome told EurActiv that Italy would not support any move to set fixed European energy efficiency targets.

"We are in favour of national targets because we have applied a number of energy efficiency measures and the results have been quite good," he said."We are confident that operating only with national measures would be a good way to reach the target."

The view from London was slightly more reserved: "We are focused on the measures we can take but the UK's approach to domestic targets is that we don't play numbers games," a British diplomat said.

Thursday 20th January 2011

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