Environmentalists slam EU over non-binding energy targets
Jun 22, 2011, 14:08 GMT
Brussels - Environmentalists Wednesday criticized the European Commission for failing to push for binding energy-saving targets as part of its drive to make European Union member states consume 20 per cent less energy by 2020.
'They are setting up measures that are no better than place holders,' Arianna Vitali Roscini of the WWF said. 'Today, the commission can tick a box in its to-do list, but has failed to demonstrate ... leadership and commitment on energy efficiency.'
'The European Commission is giving in to industry scaremongering and pandering to the lack of understanding among national governments,' Brook Riley of the Friends of the Earth Europe said.
Earlier Wednesday, the EU executive said it wanted to force EU countries to implement energy-saving schemes. However, it said it would not impose binding targets for the time being.
'The commission will propose binding national targets if in 2014 we come to the conclusion that the EU is not likely to achieve the 20 per cent target,' the commission said.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said he believed such a 'two-phased strategy' was a 'fair offer.'
With existing energy measures, the bloc is only expected to reach 9 per cent savings.
The EU executive now hopes to further spur conservation by, among other things, requiring the public sector to acquire energy-efficient buildings or carry out related renovations.
It also wants member states to compel gas, heating oil and electricity companies to fund energy efficient measures such as double-glazed windows and better heating systems for their customers.
'Energy service companies would pay for the initial investments and get their money back from the savings on the energy bills,' the commission said.
Member states could also come up with alternatives to company obligations, as long as the end result is the same. The commission, for instance, pointed to tradable energy-savings systems that have been implemented by some member states.
'Only if everyone participates do we have a chance of success,' Oettinger said.
But conservative German lawmakers in the European Parliament that the measures would lead to a 'bureaucratic jungle' and said they amounted to 'eco-dictatorship.'
If member states do not comply with the new energy directive, they could face infringement procedures, including court-ordered fines.
The measures would need to be endorsed by EU governments and the European Parliament to become law, and may be amended significantly during the process.