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Energy efficient Europe - 22/06/2011

Man placing insulation into the frame of a wall © istock/blueflames

New measures would boost energy saving and help EU reach 2020 goal of 20% reduction.

The EU's strategy for tackling climate change focuses on three targets for 2020: slashing greenhouse emissions by 20%, drawing 20% of energy from renewable sources and cutting energy use by 20%.

The EU is on track for the emissions and renewables goals, but has fallen behind on reducing energy use. If nothing is done, the EU will only achieve half of the reductions. To regain lost ground, the Commission is proposing binding energy-efficiency measures .

Energy plans

The proposals include a requirement for all countries to establish energy-saving plans.

Energy suppliers would be required to encourage their customers to become more energy-efficient, thereby reducing sales volumes by 1.5% annually.

For example, they could help homeowners improve the efficiency of their heating systems, install double-glazing and insulate roofs.

Governments could propose alternative ways of achieving the same results, such as funding programmes or voluntary agreements with suppliers.

Other measures would require:

  • governments to reduce energy consumption by renovating at least 3% of public buildings every year, and making energy efficiency a condition of all goods and services they buy
  • consumers to be provided with free and better access to information on their energy use, allowing them to better manage their consumption
  • large companies to undergo audits identifying ways to reduce consumption - smaller ones would be given incentives to do the same
  • national energy regulators to take energy efficiency into account, in particular when approving network charges

Governments would also have to monitor the efficiency of new power plants and promote the recovery of waste heat.

Next steps

EU governments must approve the measures, which will form part of a long-term vision for transforming Europe into a low-carbon but competitive economy.

In 2014 the Commission will make an assessment on whether the EU is back on track for meeting the 20% energy reduction goal. If necessary, a new proposal will be made setting mandatory national targets.

More on climate change and energy efficiency

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