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Summaries of EU Legislation

Energy efficiency: helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security

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Energy efficiency: helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy security

The European Commission is proposing an energy saving target of 30 % by 2030 for the European Union. Energy efficiency plays a vital role in the transition towards a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system, the cornerstone of which is the EU’s internal energy market.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council: Energy efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 framework for climate and energy policy (COM(2014) 520 final of 23 July 2014).

SUMMARY

The European Commission is proposing an energy saving target of 30 % by 2030 for the European Union. Energy efficiency plays a vital role in the transition towards a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system, the cornerstone of which is the EU’s internal energy market.

WHAT DOES THIS COMMUNICATION DO?

This communication assesses progress towards the EU’s 2020 energy efficiency target and proposes a new 30 % target for 2030. According to the Commission, the agreed target of 20 % energy saving by 2020 remains feasible on condition that all EU countries apply the legislation that has already been adopted.

KEY POINTS

Benefits of existing policies: energy efficiency policies have yielded proven results for businesses and consumers. These include the following.

  • Energy intensity in EU industry decreased by almost 19 % between 2001 and 2011.
  • New buildings consume half as much energy today as they did in the 1980s.
  • EU countries committed themselves to roll out close to 200 million smart meters for electricity and 45 million for gas by 2020. Such meters record energy consumption at regular intervals during the day. They allow consumers to adapt their energy use to different energy prices during the day and thus to save money on their energy bills.
  • More efficient appliances, like refrigerators and washing machines, are expected to save consumers €100 billion annually - about €465 per household - on their energy bills by 2020.

Long-term benefits: the following positive impacts are expected over the next 16 years.

  • For every additional 1 % in energy savings, EU gas imports are expected to fall by 2.6 %. This means less dependence on external suppliers.
  • More energy-efficient buildings will offer additional benefits to people who live and work in them on top of reducing their energy bills (for example, better windows improve air quality and protect from external noise).
  • Energy efficiency policies will create new opportunities for European businesses such as construction firms and equipment manufacturers, resulting in the creation of new local jobs.

Substantial funding for energy efficiency measures for the 2014-20 period is being made available by the EU through the European Structural and Investment Funds, Horizon 2020, the European local energy assistance programme (ELENA) and the European Energy Efficiency Fund (EEEF).

BACKGROUND

The EU’s energy efficiency directive introduces binding measures to ensure that energy efficiency is improved by 20 % by 2020. This target is part of the EU’s wider energy and climate goals, including a 20 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 20 % share of renewables in the EU energy mix.

On 22 January 2014, in its communication ‘A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030’, the Commission proposed new targets for greenhouse gas reductions and renewable energy for 2030 of 40 % and at least 27 %, respectively.

Further information is available from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action, and more specifically on the energy efficiency directive.

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC (Official Journal L 315 of 14.11.2012, p. 1-56).

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030 (COM(2014) 15 final of 22.1.2014).

last update 27.12.2014

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