Governments turn to energy efficiency, EU put to the test
Faced with an unprecedented energy crisis, governments around the world recognize the benefits of energy efficiency policies that have been marginalized so far and support joint action in this area, while the determination of the Member States of the Union European Union will be put to the test at the end of June.
Energy efficiency has long been considered an ancillary policy area. The director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, recently called“inexplicable” government inaction as he hosted the 7th IEA Global Conference on Energy Efficiency in Sønderborg, Denmark. The conference resulted in a joint declaration which could lead to some progress.
“The Sønderborg Joint Statement and Action Plan are International acknowledgments of the importance of energy efficiency and a promise to work towards implementing and scaling up energy efficiency solutions and technologies globally. »said Dan Jørgensen, Danish Energy Minister and organizer of the conference, last Friday (June 10).
The signatories emphasize “the central importance of energy efficiency in relieving pressure on consumers, supporting energy security and reducing dependence on energy imports”reads the joint statement of the event.
The fact that such a joint statement was not initially considered perhaps underscores the urgency of the current energy crisis, say people familiar with the matter.
“The joint statement highlights the critical importance of energy efficiency to reduce energy demand in this time of global energy crisis”explained Jan Rosenow, European director of the think tank Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP).
Although joint declarations are commonplace, “this is a strong statement in favor of energy efficiency and demand-side solutions”explained Adeline Rochet, senior adviser to the think tank on the climate E3G.
This declaration is distinguished by the fact that it is signed not only by the countries of the North, but also by countries such as Mexico, Chile, Panama, Turkey and even the African Union. These countries are often forgotten key partners in the fight against climate change.
It could be crucial to rally them alongside the EU member states that dominated the event. “The IEA has shown time and time again that without energy efficiency we have no chance of meeting climate goals”underlined Mr. Rosenow.
The declaration provides an interesting proposition to these countries, emphasizing “the value of early action on energy efficiency to cost-effectively accelerate progress towards net-zero energy goals”.
It also offers a set of policy tools, the “Sønderborg Action Plan” to facilitate the implementation of energy efficiency policies by States. A positive side effect is that policies could become more coherent in countries outside the EU.
Can the EU walk the talk?
Once again, the European Union is trying to take the lead. Energy efficiency was already at the heart of the environmental agreement, said EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.
The recent energy price crisis has further changed the timetable for energy efficiency measures, she told EURACTIV at the IEA conference on 8 June.
Two legislative projects in particular will carry most of the weight.
“The EU Energy Efficiency Directive and its recast of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive would play a crucial role” to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russia and advance the phasing out of fossil fuels at the same time, Ms Simson underlined.
So the litmus test for the EU member states that signed the declaration will be the position they take on the energy efficiency directive at the Council meetings on 27 and 28 June.
Of the larger EU member states, only Spain has not signed. Notable unexpected signatories include Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.
Policy recommendations from the IEA and the European Commission have never been so close to each other. If EU member states are coherent, this will be a huge step towards the clean energy transition, said Mr Rochet.
Most of the measures recommended by the IEA to governments around the world are already taken into account by the EU, whether in the framework of the ecodesign rules, the directive on energy efficiency or the directive on the energy performance of buildings.