Renovate Europe manifesto: stop energy waste in buildings

energy efficiency, electricity consumption, energy savings

In the context of the European elections on 25 May 2014, the French Energy Efficiency Coalition (CFEE) supported an awareness-raising campaign on energy efficiency in European buildings led by EuroACE[1]. By publishing the Renovate Europe manifesto, this campaign calls for an 80% cut in energy demand in the EU building stock by 2050.

EU-wide energy efficiency, collective endeavour and difficult implementation

Europe has been promoting energy efficiency for a number of years. Out of concern for both the consequences of overconsumption on the environment and its dependency on gas and oil imports (which account for 50% of its current consumption and could make up 70% by 2030), the EU set up two five-year plans and a framework programme in the 2000s and published various studies, such as the Green Paper on energy efficiency and a communication entitled Energy Efficiency for the 2020 goal.

Nonetheless, such steps were often little more than mere expressions of goodwill. The 2008 energy-climate package, which planned a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020, still lacks practical applications that would put Member States on the path to reaching this ambitious target. Instead, national governments mostly agree on strategic guidelines and rarely on binding and quantified commitments.

However, many studies pinpointed the main areas of energy wastage as well as potential savings.  It is, for instance, a known fact that the European building stock accounts for 35% of final energy consumption, which includes imported oil products (44%) and natural gas (21%), as well as coal (5%), an extremely polluting energy source. Since 2007, the building sector has therefore been officially considered as the priority target for a common energy efficiency policy.

In their effort to transition towards less energy-intensive societies, European policymakers have a number of tools at their disposal, chief among which are the implementation of ambitious regulation and the strengthening of existing standards. Numerous other schemes are available beside specific legislation, such as net-metering (a policy that enables users who generate on-site renewable energy, e.g. using photovoltaic panels, to sell it back to the grid), certifying new equipment, developing consumer information centres, implementing compulsory energy audits, etc.

As a matter of fact, political will has been missing so far; the Commission has therefore been unable to urge Member States to take action, including France, hence the Renovate Europe manifesto.

Energy efficiency, a cause that transcends political divides

Nearly one hundred members of European Parliament or candidates running during the last elections, coming from 20 EU Member States, signed the manifesto. Many French political parties backed the initiative: Sophie Auconie (UDI), Pascal Durand (EELV), Pierre Larrouturou (Nouvelle Donne) and Christine Revault d’Allonnes Bonnefoy (PS), among others, were present at the press conference.

By signing the manifesto, they pledged to:

  • urge the French government to implement an ambitious national renovation strategy,
  • hold the relevant commissioners and Commission services to account on the importance of taking action for building renovation,
  • recall that energy efficient building renovation requires high prioritisation at political and legislative levels,
  • help disseminate success stories about ambitious energy renovations,
  • establish continuous dialogue and support for local authorities in their efforts to renovate the EU building stock

On top of bringing together different political parties, the manifesto also gathers very diverse civil society groups, just like the CFEE, which represents several players in the construction sector (GESEC, Gimélec…) as well as environmental protection associations (FNE, CLER, RAC) and consumer and user associations (UFC-Que-Choisir, ARC).

No wonder so many different entities agree on this issue, given the significance of energy renovation and its great potential in terms of growth and job creation (an estimated 70 billions euros a year, the equivalent of France’s trade deficit), especially since buildings account for more than 40% of the country’s final energy consumption.

This alliance is a strong signal that successful common energy policy is needed to face European energy challenges.

For more information :

[1] European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings

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