While the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) is expected to deliver emissions reductions from energy saving in certain sectors, much remains to be done. The decarbonisation of our economies can only be achieved with real reductions in energy use and the extensive deployment of renewable energy sources. Energy use can be reduced through increased energy efficiency and decreased demand.
Evaluation and assessment of the EU Energy Efficiency Programmes
Prior to the current ‘Intelligent Energy – Europe’ programme, the European Commission ran programmes aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing energy use in the EU, namely ‘SAVE’ and ‘Altener’. IEEP evaluated the first SAVE programme for the Commission, outlining the possibilities for improving the programme’s dissemination and influence. We have also provided advice on the use of appropriate tools (subsidies, taxes/charges and voluntary agreements) in energy efficiency strategies for sectors including power generation, industry, households, agriculture and transport.
Energy performance of buildings
The buildings sector is responsible for some 40% of final energy consumption in the EU. Improving the energy performance of buildings is seen as a source of early and easy-to-achieve emission reductions. Nevertheless there are substantial challenges in accessing this potential. Many of these relate to non-technical barriers, one of which is financing. In a recent report for the European Environment Agency we examined the use of EU Structural Funds to promote energy efficiency in housing.
We take a keen interest in the introduction of certified energy standards for buildings across the EU; the energy retrofit of the existing building stock; and the implementation of the ‘nearly zero-energy buildings’ standards.
Reducing energy consumption from buildings will often require setting buildings in the context of the broader urban development agenda. Our knowledge of decentralised power generation, spatial planning and modal shifts in transport can enhance the implementation of buildings policy.
One way to reduce energy use is to cut our use of energy-consuming products. For those appliances and gadgets that we cannot do without, we as consumers can still make smart choices about what we buy. Environmental labelling is a key mechanism to help consumers make energy-efficient choices. An IEEP study provided the European Parliament’s Environment Committee with policy recommendations ahead of the review of the EU Directive on the provision of environmental information on new passenger cars.