French citizens want better homes. Why are politicians standing in their way?

(EurActiv, 21 Jan 2021) If it enshrines into its upcoming climate bill mandatory building renovation, France will answer the Citizens’ Convention on Climate’s call for better homes and contribute significantly to the EU’s 55% emission reduction target by 2030, writes Etienne Charbit.

Etienne Charbit is the energy efficiency project manager at CLER – Réseau pour la Transition Énergétique.

The building sector is the largest single energy consumer in Europe: our building stock accounts for 36% of EU carbon emissions. As things stand, this makes it impossible for Europe to become a climate neutral economy and cut our emissions by least 55% by 2030. To meet these targets, we’ll need to embark on serious renovation of buildings across the continent.

Right now, most renovations save between 9% and 17% of a building’s energy usage. Instead, we need to be aiming for ‘deep’ renovations – improvement works that save 60% or more of energy usage, and speed us on our way to seriously cutting carbon emissions.

The problem is current measures struggle to properly incentivise or fund serious renovation projects. A patchwork of weak building regulations and unsuitable measures to support citizens make renovations confusing and onerous, and that means our progress is dangerously slow.

However, Europe could be on the brink of a breakthrough in renovating buildings properly. The EU Renovation Wave launched last October has proposed European-level minimum energy performance standards for buildings.

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EurActiv, 21 Jan 2021: French citizens want better homes. Why are politicians standing in their way?