Policy Blackout

Already a Forerunner, European Union Could Do More to Encourage Energy Savings

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is trying to please everyone. Source: AFP
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger is trying to please everyone with a new energy policy for the 28-nation bloc.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    German technological know-how can lead the way in improving energy efficiency and cutting reliance on imports from Russia.

  • Facts


    • The European Union spends $1.35 billion daily for imported oil, gas, coal.
    • The energy savings goal for 2020 was 20 percent.
    • E.U. nations are supposed to agree by November on a new energy and climate policy for 2030.
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As often happens, the European Commission is trying to please everyone only to be loudly condemned on all sides. Its 30 percent energy savings goal by 2030 – set by Günther Oettinger, the European commissioner for energy – is too high for some and too low for others.

The target is not, in fact, too ambitious and only represents “more of the same” politics.

Now a conflict is shaping up with the European Parliament, which wants significantly higher efficiency standards. Indeed, more efforts should be made – especially as the Ukraine crisis deepens and Europe is forced to cut its reliance on imported Russian energy.

There is no better way to lower carbon dioxide emissions and reduce burning of fossil fuels than by not using energy in the first place. Admittedly, this costs billions. But investment in more efficient technologies is not money lost.  Some companies will benefit and, with a little luck, new jobs will be created.

Each day the European Union spends more than €1 billion ($1.35 billion) to import fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. Much of that comes from Russia. The money would be better spent investing in Europe’s craftsmen and industries to help Europe cut its need for external supplies of raw materials.

Moreover, Europe should keep its place as the world leader in developing technologies for a climate-friendly economy.

We need a European goal that obligates individual countries to exactly defined standards of efficiency. The 28 E.U. member nations, however, should retain the prerogative of deciding how to meet those standards.


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