the Twenty-Seven agree to reduce their energy consumption and accelerate the development of renewables

The war in Ukraine has put the question of energy sobriety back at the top of the agenda. The Twenty-Seven agreed on binding targets to reduce energy consumption in the European Union and accelerate the development of renewable energies, Monday 27 June.

The energy ministers of the member countries were to decide on two parts of the climate plan unveiled in July 2021 by the European Commission, which aims to reduce EU greenhouse gas emissions by 55% compared to 1990. The text will still have to be negotiated with the European Parliament before to be definitively adopted.

The first action lever concerns the share of renewable energies: they should represent 40% of the European energy mix by 2030, against a current target of 32%. The 45% target, proposed by the European Commission in May, was rejected by ministers because “too short”.

Each economic sector has been assigned a renewable development objective. For the transport sector, each State must for example reduce by 13% the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, or reach at least 29% of renewable energies.

The building should reach 49% renewable energy in heating and cooling by 2030. On the other hand, no binding target for the industry sector. The ministers also recommended reducing the administrative burden for solar or wind projects.

Another lever of action studied: the reduction in energy consumption. Here too, the ministers kept the objective proposed by the Commission in July 2021, i.e. a 9% reduction in consumption by 2030 compared to 2020. Each country will have to set its level of contribution, which can be corrected by the Commission if necessary.

But in the text proposed by the Twenty-Seven, the objective of reducing primary consumption (which also includes energy consumption for the production and distribution of electricity) has become “callsign”, and no longer mandatory. In response, Germany passed an amendment to require states to submit their contributions on their final consumption, which is still subject to a binding target.

Agnès Pannier-Runacher, the Minister for Energy Transition, refuted any weakening of ambitions. “End energy consumption targets are set in stone”underlines the French minister, “and a certain number of flexibilities are introduced because each State does not start from the same point”. But some countries criticized the proposed targets: “the only way to achieve our goal is to close industries”, was indignant the Luxembourg Minister Claude Turmes. Poland, it judges “extremely high and disproportionate” the objective which would be incumbent on him, believing that he does not know “its geopolitical situation” due to the war in Ukraine and the impact of the refugees it hosts.

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