EU Energy and Environment ministers are meeting today and tomorrow in Riga, Latvia at the Informal Energy and Environment Council Meeting to discuss renewable energy use and biodiversity protection, energy efficiency – in particular in the heating and cooling sector, and regional cooperation in the energy sector.
Alongside the Ministers from EU countries, the European Commission will be represented by Miguel Arias Cañete, European Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Union and Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
The European Commission's position is that energy efficiency is an energy source in its own right, and making energy savings must be considered before increases in energy imports. Europe is on track to achieving 18-19% in energy savings by 2020, but if all EU countries fully implement existing laws, Europe would reach a 20% energy saving by 2020.
Looking ahead, there are big opportunities in the heating and cooling sector, which accounts for half of Europe’s energy use – equivalent to transport and electricity combined. In February the European Commission held a successful conference on heating and cooling and the Commission will prepare a heating and cooling strategy.
Ministers and Commissioner Vella will also discuss ways to promote the use of renewable energy while also ensuring that biodiversity is ensured. Renewables can greatly contribute to climate change mitigation, energy security, and growth and jobs - but they must be promoted with the least environmental impact. The Commission will come forward with a Renewable Energy package in 2017 which will also include a new policy for sustainable bioenergy.
On the second day of the two-day meeting, Ministers and Commissioner Arias Cañete will discuss regional cooperation in energy, in particular its potential, best practices and barriers. Deeper regional cooperation within Europe should increase security of energy supply and help integrate renewables. It is also essential to achieving and managing the Commission’s strategy for a European Energy Union.
Find out more and watch the livestreaming