Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The reduction of energy consumption – or rather waste – of energy by all sectors of our economy, including the construction sector, would substantially cut bills for all citizens, especially to the benefit of those who are at risk of energy poverty, guaranteeing also greater independence from fossil energy imports, now more necessary than ever.
As rapporteur, for the Greens / EFA group in the European Parliament, on the opinion on the revision of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) from the ENVI Committee, I am following closely the ongoing negotiations on what is the main EU legislative instrument that aims to reduce energy consumption and promote efficiency and savings actions across all sectors of our economy.
The European Commission’s proposal, presented in July 2021, has been an important step forward on the issue, by setting more ambitious 2030 targets for the reduction of energy consumption and introducing strengthened provisions to ensure the contribution from all sectors towards this effort.
Nevertheless, the proposal presents several shortcomings, starting from 2030 energy efficiency target which is set at an insufficient level in light of the urgency to reduce our energy consumption, all the more so in the current context of unprecedented crisis. Furthermore, the lack of binding national targets and specific rules aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels in key sectors, such as (district|) heating and cooling, significantly undermines the transformative ambition of the Commission’s text.
In light of the above, I fought hard to raise the overall energy efficiency target to 45% by 2030, while demanding that national contributions be binding and no longer indicative, in order to guarantee concrete actions and accountability over Member States’ implementation. To this end, I have also introduced a reference point in 2027 to ensure that progress at national level is not delayed and that the Commission comes forward with post-2030 targets as early as 2025. In addition, I have firmly called for a higher sub-target of 2%, compared to the 1.5% originally proposed, for the annual national energy savings obligation, in line with the request for a strengthened regulatory framework and greater climate ambition.
To ensure more efficient and healthier buildings, especially for the benefit of the most vulnerable categories or those at risk of energy poverty, I have expanded the scope of the annual obligation to renovate 3% of public buildings, also requiring an additional 3% annual renovation rate of those buildings that perform a social function, such as hospitals, schools, care facilities and social housing.
In light of the important link between energy and resource consumption, I have also introduced several changes to the Commission text to focus attention on the water-energy nexus, proposing ad hoc measures under the provisions on energy audits, energy management systems and public procurement.
Despite strong opposition from many political groups, I have strived to ensure that new district heating and cooling systems are based only on the use of renewable energy, as is already the case in several European cities, such as Helsinki, Budapest, Vienna, Dublin, Munich and Paris, to name a few.