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Energy-smart Europe on the horizon - 09/03/2011

Low-energy light bulb, turned on © EU

New EU proposals to reinvigorate 2020 energy-saving efforts and create a genuine low-carbon economy by 2050 - potentially saving every household €1 000 and creating 2m jobs in the process.

EU efforts to tackle climate change – but still meet European energy needs – are part of its Europe 2020 growth strategy.

The strategy builds on the three headline targets already set for 2020: slashing greenhouse emissions by 20%, drawing 20% of energy from renewable sources and cutting energy use by 20%.

While on track for the emissions and renewables goals, the EU is falling behind on energy cuts. So the Commission wants to redouble efforts, while at the same time setting out its long-term vision for transforming the EU into a low-carbon, but competitive, economy.

Energy efficiency

The new energy efficiency plan – which could help households save up to €1 000 a year and create up to 2m jobs – includes calls for:

  • governments to reduce energy consumption in at least 3% of public buildings every year, and to make energy efficiency a condition of all goods and services they buy
  • companies to cut energy use in commercial buildings
  • further reductions in the energy used by household appliances
  • more efficient power and heat generation
  • energy-efficiency requirements for industrial equipment
  • energy audits and management for large companies
  • rolling out smart grids and meters, giving consumers ways to cut energy use and calculate their savings

The Commission will propose laws on these measures in the coming months.

Low-carbon economy

The low-carbon roadmap presents cost-effective ways the EU can further cut greenhouse emissions – to just 5-20% of 1990 levels by 2050 – and still become more competitive.

The plan would require an additional €270bn of investment a year in green technologies and transport, infrastructure such as smart electricity grids, and environmental protection. This is on top of current overall investment equivalent to 19% of the EU's gross domestic product.

The extra money would be recovered through savings of €175-320bn a year from reduced oil and gas imports.

More on climate change and energy efficiency

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