The European Commission today adopted a roadmap for transforming the European Union into a competitive low carbon economy by 2050. At the same time, the Commission said if business continues as usual, the EU will achieve only half its target of 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency above 2005 levels by 2020.
The roadmap describes what the Commission calls "the cost-effective pathway" to reach the EU's objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. But environmentalists warn that deeper emissions cuts must be made much earlier, at least 40 percent by 2020 to avoid dangerous climate change.
The Commission today also adopted an energy efficiency plan it said would strengthen Europe's competitiveness and reduce energy dependence, while decreasing the level of emissions. Over the past two decades, emissions have gone down by 16 percent, and the EU economy has grown by 40 percent over the same period.
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said, "Despite progress, our estimates show that we need a further decisive and coordinated action on energy efficiency, without which the EU will not meet its objective of 20 percent energy savings by 2020."
The energy efficiency plan proposes a new binding target requiring governments to refurbish at least three percent of their buildings each year and introduces energy efficiency criteria in public procurement.
It encourages energy efficiency renovations for private buildings and upgrades in energy performance of appliances, industrial equipment, power and heat generation.
The plan focuses on the roll-out of smart grids and smart meters providing consumers with the information and services necessary to optimize their energy consumption and calculate energy savings.
Oettinger said, "It should transform our daily lives and generate financial savings of up to €1000 per household every year. It should improve the EU's industrial competitiveness with a potential for the creation of up to two million jobs."
The Commission says it has taken the initiative because leading the global transition to a low carbon and resource-efficient economy will have multiple benefits for the European Union.
The Commission will monitor the implementation of the energy efficiency plan and translate these actions into a legislative proposal in the coming months.
It will report on progress in spring 2013, and if the review shows that the overall EU target is unlikely to be achieved, the Commission will propose legally binding targets for 2020.