Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 23 Jan 2015

Raising our game

Every year we in the energy efficiency community say that this is the breakthrough year when energy efficiency will get the priority it deserves within energy policy.  At the end of the year we generally shake our head in disbelief that policymakers can be so blinded as to not see the full benefits of such a higher priority.

2014 was a roller coaster year for energy efficiency policy.  In July the European Commission published a reasonable communication on energy efficiency that argued for a 30% target for energy efficiency (actually for energy savings) for 2030.  As eceee analysis showed, however, the Commission’s own impact assessment, with all its methodological flaws, could have easily argued for a 40% target, given the benefits that would be achieved (yes, and comparing it to costs).  Alas, the European Council approved a disappointing and unambitious 27% non-binding target.

What does this mean? Does Council really mean they want to lower the priority for energy efficiency?  It did not change the proposed 2030 target for greenhouse gas emissions.  But it obviously believes that improved energy efficiency will play a smaller part in achieving that climate change target.  That leaves energy efficiency analysts and advocates scratching their head in bewilderment.  How could they?

In September, the International Energy Agency published a comprehensive report on the full range of benefits of energy efficiency.  This publication rightly so received quite wide coverage.  But, coming out a month before Council adopted the less than optimal energy efficiency target, the report obviously had no influence on them.

Fortunately, in November, the G20 adopted an energy efficiency action plan.  It is a reasonable plan, not overly ambitious, but given it is global in scope, it has to have a good impact if implemented well.  We have organisations such as the International Partnership for Energy Efficiency Cooperation (IPEEC) overseeing the action plan to ensure it is taken seriously.  It will be reviewed at the next G20 summit in Turkey in late 2015.

Now we are at the beginning of a new year.  The new Commission only started in late 2014 and it will be important to see how it takes charge of energy policy. The Commission is to report on the progress of the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive and in meeting the 2020 energy saving target. The Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group will report on financing energy efficiency.  No doubt there will be other important reports coming forward.  At the end of the year, UN climate conference in Paris is expected to adopt a global climate commitment. That has to help the commitment to energy efficiency.

To me, the emphasis this year has to be on strong implementation of all the EU energy efficiency directives.  It also means communicating the messages on the benefits of energy efficiency to a wider audience so that we will not be disappointed by future Council decisions and we will reinforce the hard work being done at the national, regional and local levels.

While many of us will meet next at the eceee summer study in June, please remember that we have to go out of our comfort zones and reach new audiences.  And we need to go out in the community to better understand why we are not achieving what we believe we should and what more we must do to raise our game.

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.

Other columns by Rod Janssen

Oct 2016

Apr 2016

Nov 2011