40% savings target: Yes, you can and, President Juncker, yes you must!
It was impossible to imagine a year ago. It’s hard to believe today, but the world might well move on the post-Paris Climate Agreement without Europe!
For once, the European Commission cannot be blamed for this “ridiculous” situation as President Juncker described the slow ratification by the EU of the climate deal. It could even be the opposite: we may well have to applaud the European Commission if its proposed fast-track ratification succeeds in giving EU leaders a seat at the table of the post-Paris climate decisions.
The ratification of the Paris Climate Agreement before the start of COP22 in November this year is, indeed, of a high importance for EU climate diplomacy. However, we should not forget, as many have explained, that our domestic climate and energy targets are the one that would foster innovation, drive growth, create domestic jobs, reduce air pollution in our communities and provide access to clean energy services to all EU citizens without distinction of income.
Although, the European Commission is not a decision-making body per-se, it will play a major role in the up-coming debate regarding the level of ambition of our EU-wide climate and energy targets. The legislative proposal (to be published in mid-October) on energy efficiency (concerning both the Energy Efficiency Directive and the Energy Performance for Buildings Directive) will signal a clear indication in which direction Europe is heading.
The worst option is to have a new impact assessment from the Commission which would then provide “scientific” evidence (including a “pseudo” costs/benefits analysis) arguing for a shameful 30% energy savings target by 2030. This option would definitely seal Europe’s fate ensuring that it lags behind the global giants who have already ratified the Paris Climate Agreement. Let’s not kid ourselves (or anybody else); the 21st century is about the new climate economy. It cannot be based on business as usual thinking and 30% energy savings target is just business as usual. It will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions enough to put Europe on the Paris path (see figure), nor will it foster innovation or drive growth. On the contrary, it will lock Europe in outdated technologies, business models and governance structures.
The other option is for the Commission to argue that business as usual energy savings targets can no longer be considered in Europe – not only because of climate impact but also, and maybe mainly, for the societal and economic impacts that could result from such a low ambition. In this option, the baseline scenario would be the one with a 40% energy savings target by 2030. In fact, this is the only one that gives us any hope of being close to the Paris path (see figure).
There will be of course winners and losers of both options.
The winners of the 30% “business as usual” energy savings target are those, too lazy intellectually to innovate, who will benefit from spreading their outdated technologies in Europe in the short-term. They may for instance not go for net Zero Energy Buildings when it comes to the renovation of existing buildings. They will ignore the recent progress made in countries like Japan which has already set a Net Zero Energy target for new and existing buildings when they undergo renovation or the US where the Triple Net Zero (energy, water and waste) concept is tested when military buildings are renovated.
We should not underestimate the power of those who advocate for the short-term vision and the business as usual thinking; they move secretly in the dark!
The winners, I must say the real winner, of the minimum 40% energy savings target by 2030 is the People of Europe and the People of Europe is Europe!
Let’s hope the recent Brexit and the rise of populism (and nationalism) in all our countries will give the Commission the necessary courage needed to avoid that Europe becomes the backwater region of the OECD countries.
President Juncker, you have been elected for the New Start of Europe! The up-coming Commission proposals on climate, energy, investments and trade with other nations must be based on the “Efficiency First Principle”. You “owe this to future generations”!
- EE27, EE30 & EE40: 2014 EC Impact assessment on energy efficiency and its contribution to energy security
- IEA 2DS (degrees scenario): 2016 IEA Energy Technology Perspectives
- Paris agreement: own estimate
This column was published for the first time on September 27th, 2016 on eceee