Internal review improves 2020 energy plan but big gaps remain

Posted on 08 November 2010    
Wind mill -- near Vienna, Austria
© Andreas Beckmann, 2007
Brussels, Belgium: On Wednesday 10 November the European Commission is expected to present its communication on the new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020 aimed to ensure 'competitive, sustainable and secure energy.'

Based on successive drafts seen by WWF, the final release is expected to be much improved after inter-service review, but it still fails to tackle efficiency and fossil fuel dependency head-on.

Jason Anderson, head of European climate change and energy policy at WWF said, “The original DG Energy plan to expand fossil and nuclear energy and largely ignore renewables and climate change has been improved by other services, taking out the most contentious language and shifting emphasis in important areas.”

Previously energy efficiency was called the ‘top priority’ in the same sentence as rises in energy use were predicted. Climate goals for 2020 and 2050 barely came in for a mention, nor was it acknowledged that the energy sector releases 80% of greenhouse gas emissions. ‘Affordable’ energy was held out as a priority without consideration for the environment. All of these points are expected to be addressed now.

However, the plan will likely fall flat on specifics for efficiency: “The Commission knows Europe is on track to miss its 20% energy savings target by half – equivalent to the energy of seven Nabucco pipelines or the final energy consumption of Germany,” said Anderson.

“WWF urges a binding energy saving target, the obvious solution that is completely and continuously ignored.”

The Commission also envisions a Europe simultaneously decarbonising while locking itself into massive fossil fuel infrastructure. Nowhere is the link made between saving energy, expanding renewables, and increasing security of supply; instead the old-fashioned equation of “more is better” is applied to oil and gas access.

In contrast, coal is not expected to be mentioned in this review of Europe's energy future, indicating it may finally be getting buried.

The plan is still just an outline of the Commission’s thinking – it notes the legislative process will continue for 18 months, but does not provide a specific guide to the timing and content of upcoming proposals. This leaves significant vagueness ahead of the 4 February European Council on energy.

For further information:
Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy Policy, WWF European Policy Office
Mobile: +32 474 837 603
E-mail: janderson@wwfepo.org

Alexandra Bennett, Communications Director, WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 09 25
Mobile: +32 477 393 400
E-mail: abennett@wwfepo.org

Wind mill -- near Vienna, Austria
© Andreas Beckmann, 2007 Enlarge

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