MEP hails new EU deal on energy efficiency

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By a Newsnet reporter

Scotland’s sole representative on the European Parliament’s Energy Committee Alyn Smith MEP has today hailed a landmark vote in the European Parliament on energy efficiency, ensuring the EU is on course to meet its 2020 target of 20% energy saving, creating jobs and boosting the economy.

The vote endorses the view of the Parliament’s Energy Committee, and ensures a number of crucial measures including the legal framework and binding annual targets, many of which had been subject to attempts by member states to backslide on commitments.

Under the proposed new law, energy distributors and energy companies will be obliged to help consumers save 1.5 per cent of their energy per year for the period 2014-2020 by introducing programmes like the UK’s energy efficiency obligation scheme.

The law will also force national governments to lead by example, and government buildings throughout the EU will have to renovate at least three per cent of total floor area of central government buildings each year from 2014 in order to ensure energy efficiency.

The EU has set itself a target of improving energy efficiency by 20 per cent by 2020.

The Report passed with a massive majority, with some 93% of MEPs approving.

Mr Smyth said:

“Energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit of energy policy, but it is so often overlooked. Worse, some member states appeared more interested in backsliding on the targets they themselves had agreed to when our ambitions will be good for jobs and economy as well as the planet. There are of course short term costs but the savings, and wider economic benefits, are plain to see.

“Today’s vote is a hugely important one in ensuring that the EU is on track to meet its 2020 obligations of energy saving, creating jobs and providing a much needed boost to the economy. If I have any criticism of the package it would be that I would like to see it go further.

“The new Energy Efficiency Directive enshrines the EU’s 20 per cent energy savings target in a legal framework to meet our targets for 2020. Member States will be responsible for setting out a roadmap for achieving energy savings, and energy companies will be tasked with delivering annual savings across all end-use sectors.

“There has been some opposition to this initiative, including grumblings from the UK Government, yet the package we have adopted today offers considerably more flexibility for Member States than what was initially proposed.

“Of course it is easy to set targets. We now must insure there is swift implementation. Policy at EU and National level must be reoriented with a view to maximise the benefits of this new legislation, including mobilising European funds which can be used to support energy efficiency and savings, as well as creating training programmes and job opportunities with a view to tackling unemployment.

“Congratulations to my colleague, draftsperson Claude Turmes MEP, for this result.”