The ups and downs of EU energy efficiency policy

Editor’s note: The latest fashion in the debate on the energy efficiency directive is to call for energy intensity targets (i.e. the number of units of energy used to create a unit of GDP) instead of the established 20% reduction in energy consumption.

It is important to be aware of the vested interests behind this move – and we hope that these ‘leaked extracts’ from an unnamed MEP’s private diary will shed some light on the matter!

Private diary of Centre Right MEP X.

Monday 21 November

Don’t remember much about today. I got back from the constituency very late and was in my office first thing this morning after a fairly sleepless night. T. and I spent some time reviewing what the papers said about my speech, and congratulating ourselves on our success.

Thinking over what B.H. told me about the impact he reckons the energy efficiency directive would have on the local coal industry. One of my closest friends. Always refreshing to hear his views and so pleasing to be in a position to help.

Tuesday 22 November

Felt much more energetic today, and also saw S. for the first time since I’d been back – very pleasant!

Challenging meeting this morning with L.O and my adviser S.M to prepare for the energy efficiency directive hearing on the 29th. Thomassen from Nordic Sugar cancelled and we had to nominate a replacement in a hurry – a professor from Magdeburg.

We discussed the energy savings targets v/s intensity debate. Worrying. ALDE and S&D don’t look like giving up the standard 20% target definition. They’re saying it takes a reduction in energy use to cut energy imports, fuel bills, carbon emissions etc – and that an intensity target won’t guarantee this. Difficult to refute.

BUT BDI and Business Europe really want this turned around- as if they don’t know I’m already doing all I can! Would help if they could stop talking vaguely about relocations and tell their Berlin economics people to give us some solid data. Otherwise we’ll be fighting for intensity targets but with no proof that this would be any better for competitiveness than the standard savings target. We also have no strategy to allocate the targets to each member state. Risks making us look like fools.

L.O and S.M were also worried about that and the meeting wasn’t going anywhere until I got really firm and decisive. Told them that:

  • Whatever happens we’ll definitely be proposing a new target based on energy intensity. Was looking through Eurostat on the way back on Sunday: EU energy intensity has improved 30% since 1990 but that didn’t stop energy consumption increasing 10% over the same period. Good. Much less pressure to replace our nuclear with unreliable wind or solar – we can stick to the proven coal/gas mix.
  • An intensity target means fewer conceptual constraints for our industry friends – and that’s what we want. BUT we’ll need clever messaging because this way energy consumption will – hopefully! – not be too affected. The opposition will of course start pulling the heart-strings with the lower energy use = lower energy bills argument. AND they’ll say that potentially letting energy demand increase means finding more money for energy infrastructure – and that consumers will have to pay the bill. Ja ja… Too bad! But there’s no denying it’s a communications problem. Told S.M to come up with an answer. Confident we can put a positive spin on it by Tuesday.

Wednesday 23 November

Wunderbar! Won the sweepstake with ECR on the total number of amendments to C.T’s report… Record 1810 amendments in the end – 600 more than for the Renewable Energy Directive.

Posted by Brook Riley (Friends of the Earth Europe) and Erica Hope (Climate Action Network Europe)


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