German Advisory Council on the Environment Calls for Binding Energy Savings Targets in EU Consultation on Future Energy Efficiency Policy

The German Advisory Council on the Environment (Sachverständigenrat für Umweltfragen – SRU) has participated in the EU consultation on “Progress towards the 2020 energy efficiency objective and a 2030 energy efficiency policy framework”. SRU called for binding energy savings targets complementing the targets for greenhouse gas emissions and the expansion of renewable energies (regarding the EU 2020 targets, please see here), pointing out the importance of an ambitious energy efficiency policy as a key driver for decarbonization and prosperity.

In its response to the EU SRU calls energy efficiency and renewable (RES) expansion “the essential building blocks to achieve the EU’s decarbonization targets.” It advises that “the EU should thus maintain a three-pillar approach consisting of separate – but mutually supportive – targets for GHG mitigation, RES expansion, and energy efficiency improvements.”  “To underscore their equal importance, all should be made legally binding with compliance responsibility at the Member State level”, SRU demands.

Regarding energy efficiency the key passage of the contribution made by SRU reads as follows:

“The indicative energy efficiency targets laid down in the EU’s 2020 climate and energy package will presumably be missed. Thus, ambitious and legally binding energy saving targets should be developed within the 2030 framework. Studies identify primary energy savings potentials that may reach up to almost 50 percent in 2030 compared to 2010, with most energy saving opportunities being cost-effective; the EU energy efficiency target should strive for tapping the available cost-effective energy saving potential. Based on an EU-wide target, national energy saving obligations should be assigned and Member States should be made legally responsible for achieving their country-specific targets.
The EU should adopt a dual approach to effectively achieve its overall energy saving targets in a manner that ensures economic efficiency and compliance with the internal market: EU-wide harmonized product-related policies should be improved, reinforced and extended for widely standardized energy-consuming products (e.g. vehicles, household appliances), building on already existing policies such as the EU’s ecodesign framework or the CO2 emissions standards for vehicles. In realms that call for more customized solutions (such as industrial processes), an approach is warranted that follows the subsidiarity principle and allows countries to find their own ways to improve energy efficiency.
Whereas ambitious absolute energy consumption targets are indispensible to guide the required progress towards the EU’s long-term climate and energy targets, additional “safety valves” may be warranted to accommodate unforeseen macroeconomic developments. If the actual economic growth exceeds or falls below an anticipated range of growth rates, the energy consumption target may be adjusted upwards or downwards, respectively, in accordance with predefined rules.”

SRU is an expert advisory body whose mission is to describe and assess environmental conditions, problems, and political trends and to point out solutions and preventive measures. SRU submits an Environmental Report to the German federal government every four years. In addition, SRU issues Special Reports in which specific environmental problems are examined in detail. The Council consists of seven professors of different environment-related disciplines.

SRU has already highlighted the importance of energy efficiency on various occasions in the past (for more information, please see here and the link below).

Source: SRU

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