UK pulls the plug on saving energy

Published on Thursday, 14 June 2012 12:07
Posted by Scott Buckler

WWF-UK today criticised the Government for ‘cynically undermining’ the European Union’s Energy Efficiency Directive (EED), saying that the Government’s position had ‘effectively scuppered’ the potential for energy savings across Europe

Late last night the European Parliament, Council and Commission agreed the new EED, but failed to put in place the measures needed to reach the EU's 20% energy savings target by 2020 with the UK being instrumental in watering down the proposals.

In stark contrast to the UK’s leadership on the need for 30% carbon reductions across Europe by 2020 the UK dug its heels in and insisted on changes to the EED that effectively provided the UK with get-out clauses.

Zoe Leader, energy efficiency policy officer at WWF-UK, said: “This unambitious deal shines a light on the UK’s real attitude to energy efficiency. Despite plenty of rhetoric from the Government on the importance of energy efficiency their position throughout the negotiations has effectively scuppered the potential for real energy savings across Europe. It seems they are happy to talk the talk but not to walk the walk.

“If the UK Government is serious about building a low carbon economy then they need to stop cynically undermining measures, like the EED, that would bring real benefits in this area. Investing in energy efficiency would result in more jobs, lower bills and cuts in carbon, and it’s essential we make this a cornerstone of UK energy policy. We can’t afford not to.”

The 20% energy savings target remains non-binding in the final text and thanks to the UK’s efforts the 20% target amounts to much less with Member States being able to count action before and after the 6 year lifetime of the target. The only saving grace in the final text is that the energy savings obligations will be subject to a review in 2016 with the Commission able to make changes if Member States are failing to meet the target.

The building renovation provisions are especially weak when compared to the potential for energy savings in this sector with obligations limited to buildings owned and occupied by central governments only. The Parliament’s suggestion to introduce roadmaps for reducing the energy consumption of the building sector by 80% has been turned into vague national strategies.

The new Energy Efficiency Directive will make some improvements to current EU policy, like a reference to deep renovations, but additional measures and efforts are still urgently needed to realize the full benefits of energy savings for citizens and businesses.


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