Members of the European Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee today voted for a binding target for improving energy efficiency by 2020.
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Under the plan, national governments will have to improve energy efficiency by 20% by 2020. This goal is broken down into national targets with interim targets for 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Member states have resisted binding targets and they were not part of the European Commission’s initial proposal for an energy efficiency directive. Instead, the Commission proposed binding measures, such as refurbishing public buildings and an energy savings requirement for utilities.
National ministers complained that these measures lacked flexibility. MEPs have agreed to scrap them in exchange for member states agreeing to binding national targets. But Claude Turmes, a Green Luxembourgeois MEP who drafted the committee’s report, said that the binding measures could only be relaxed if the national targets were agreed.
The committee also agreed to begin negotiations with member states now rather than waiting for a vote in plenary.
The report on the energy efficiency directive also includes an amendment calling for the Commission to intervene in the EU’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) “if appropriate” in order to raise the carbon price. This “may include” setting aside allowances.
The language is weaker than that used by the Parliament’s environment committee in its report on the energy efficiency directive. That report called for 1.4 billion carbon allowances to be withheld in the next phase of the ETS, from 2013-20.
Turmes said a specific recommendation for a set-aside was not possible because of resistance from centre-right MEPs. But he said the version passed by the ITRE committee today would still provide a mandate for the Commission to take action.