Columnists: Rod Janssen, Independent consultant

Published on: 10 Oct 2015

Is the energy efficiency community ready for a global climate agreement?

On September 23rd Claude Turmes, Member of the European Parliament presented his Luxembourg Declaration to an informal meeting of energy ministers.  Why?  Ahead of the global climate conference later this year in 2015, this Declaration is a wake up call that more investment is needed in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  “More action is needed to tackle climate change and the accelerated development of renewable energy and energy efficiency is at the core of all international scenarios, notably the International Energy Agency 450 scenario , aiming at keeping global warming below 2°C.” While there are many who praise the ambition of existing policy measures, this Declaration is simply saying that it is not enough.

The Declaration reiterates that energy efficiency is the “first fuel” for the European Union and repeats the Commission’s own words that it is necessary to “rethink energy efficiency and treat it as an energy source in its own right”. The Declaration recommends that decision makers should “Acknowledge that energy efficiency is the first fuel for Europe and should be treated as an infrastructure investment to the same extent as supply-side options are.”

The Declaration gets to the root of the problem. Many are chanting the phrase that energy efficiency should be first but it is not obvious by actions on the ground. Do decision makers truly believe it is the first fuel?  It is not obvious.  Many member states are being criticised (often through the EU’s legal process) for not meeting the minimum requirements under the transposition and implementation process of the energy efficiency directives.  If the European Union is serious about meeting its climate and energy obligations, then there has to be a greater recognition of the cost-effective value of improving energy efficiency ambitiously.  Yes, and treating it as an infrastructure priority.

At the recent International on Conference on Energy Efficiency of Domestic Appliances and Lighting ( EEDAL ), energy analyst Yamina Saheb argued that long term investment framework at the level of decarbonisation ambition is needed for de-risking energy efficiency investments by providing a guarantee; reshaping institutions and building skills; and monitoring, evaluation and enforcement of EE policies. Importantly, she also said that when you make the calculations, the Commission’s energy efficiency decarbonisation scenarios from its 2014 impact assessment make energy savings the first fuel of Europe in 2030. These are all fundamental and should be considered seriously.

The Luxembourg Declaration makes many recommendations on energy efficiency: on ambitious targets, on treating energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority, on the need for long-term renovation strategies, on further efforts to ensure the implementation of nearly zero energy buildings, on more technical assistance, on up-skilling training programmes, and through accelerating the development of thermal renewable energy sources (solar, geothermal, sustainable biomass) through efficient individual and district heating solutions.  I fully agree with all these recommendations.

Will the Luxembourg Declaration starting building a new consensus?  On September 30 th , Maroš Šefčovič, the Commission’s Vice-President responsible for the Energy Union, tweeted his support for the Luxembourg Declaration.

Ah, the Energy Union! announced earlier this year, this is a new initiative, spearheaded by Mr. Šefčovič to ensure that Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. By the end of September, Mr. Šefčovič has visited 16 member states to promote the concept.  There are five objectives, of which one is energy efficiency.  And the Energy Union has placed energy efficiency “first” noting that there is a need to fundamentally rethink energy efficiency.

So, here we have the Energy Union and now the Luxembourg Declaration.  Both of them are giving focus to the upcoming global climate summit where, if we are to have a global agreement, there is no doubt energy efficiency has to be seen as a major component of the solutions.

Will we see that fundamental rethink on energy efficiency?

We must.  Business as usual just isn’t working.

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