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Draft EU Directive proposes binding energy efficiency targets

Under a draft EU Directive approved by the Energy Committee, EU countries will have to set binding national energy efficiency targets, and save energy by specific means such as renovating public buildings.

By Kari Williamson

The Directive would not only save energy, but also reduce CO2 emissions, and hence demand for emission allowances under the EU's emissions trading scheme, the committee notes.

"This vote is a major sign that Parliament, with a majority including most political parties, takes rising energy costs and energy poverty seriously. Energy efficiency offers possibilities for job creation – notably in the building sector. Now governments have a choice: Protect citizens against energy poverty and create many job opportunities or allow big energy companies to make ever-increasing profits," says Rapporteur Claude Turmes (Greens/EFA, LU).

The EU has already set itself the (non-binding) task of achieving 20% primary energy savings in 2020, but the Commission estimates that if no measures are taken, the EU will only achieve half of that by 2020.

Binding targets

The EU Parliament called for a binding energy efficiency target in a resolution passed in December 2010. Energy Committee MEPs now call for binding national targets – not included in Commission's initial proposal – to be based on specific reference values for each EU country. Achieving these energy efficiency targets could contribute to the overall EU target of 20% energy savings.

By June 2013, the Commission will need to check whether Member States are on track to achieve these targets, and by June 2014 it should come forward with a proposal for energy savings targets for 2030, says the text.

The text also calls on the Commission to report on the impact of incentives to invest in low-carbon technologies and the risk of carbon leakage. MEPs also ask the Commission to consider whether to take measures, before the start of the third phase of the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS), "which may include withholding of the necessary amount of allowances".

Next steps

The Energy Committee decided (31 votes in favour, 22 against and 5 abstentions) to give the rapporteur a mandate to proceed with the negotiations with the Council. The plenary vote will take place only after the end of these negotiations.

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