The European Commission today announced the level of reduction in energy use it wants Europe to achieve by 2030. The 30% energy savings target has been branded "bafflingly low" by Friends of the Earth Europe.
The decision to recommend 30% ignores the European Commission's own analysis which shows a higher target of 40% energy efficiency by 2030 would bring major environmental and economic benefits, improve energy security, and boost employment. Gas imports fall by 40% with a 40% target, but by just 22% with a 30% target.
Brook Riley, climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said: "Europe is crying out for a way to reduce dependence on imported energy. The easiest, safest way to do this is to use less energy. Instead we've got a bafflingly weak target; it's now up to the European Council and Parliament to push for more."
Current Commission President Barroso, and Catherine Day his closest advisor, are believed to be concerned that a higher energy efficiency target would provoke strong opposition from the member states and damage the chances of securing a deal on the package of climate and energy measures for 2030 due to be reached in the autumn.
However, many EU governments want to increase energy efficiency as a way to reduce import dependence. Germany and Denmark are leading a growing group of countries calling for an 'ambitious binding target'. Significantly, this group includes the countries which were the hardest hit by the financial crisis: Greece, Portugal and Ireland.
Brook Riley continued: "Many countries, including those hardest hit by the economic crisis, are calling for ambitious binding targets. Energy savings creates jobs, reduces emissions, and reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels. In one move Barroso is ensuring Europe misses out on the environmental and economic benefits of saving energy."
The Commission's proposal will now be discussed by the European Council. A final decision is expected in October.
Friends of the Earth Europe is calling for three binding targets for 2030 (greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency) and for citizen and community-controlled renewables to be at the centre of Europe's energy policy. This is the only way to avoid the worst consequences of climate change and bring maximum benefits to the EU and its citizens.