Unilever, Philips, 3M and several other members of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) have signed a letter sent to the European Commission calling for a new set of competitiveness objectives to exploit all possible cost-effective energy-efficiency opportunities by 2030.
In the letter, Monica Frassoni, President of EU-ASE, writes that the energy-efficiency goals set in the Commission’s recent White Paper are disappointing, and there is a growing number of countries that support taking stronger action. For instance, the French and German governments recently called on the European Commission to develop proposals for binding energy-efficiency targets and measures, and to make available new financing instruments to support energy efficiency.
At the forthcoming European Council, a major point of discussion will be how to improve European competiveness and the Commission’s proposals for a 2030 energy and climate change package. However, Frassoni says, the debate should not be framed as if there is a choice between competitiveness and taking action on climate change. The business community represented by the EU-ASE believes that, by improving energy efficiency, Europe can improve its competiveness, shore up energy security and achieve climate-change objectives.
According to Frassoni, Europe could save €1-2 trillion ($1.37-$2.74 trillion USD) from 2020-2030 by taking advantage of existing cost-effective energy efficiency opportunities. In a time of austerity, this could be a major source of savings that also could generate jobs across the continent, reduce energy import costs and increase manufacturing investment in the EU.
Taking action on energy efficiency also would reduce European dependence on imported energy, Frassoni writes. Cost-effective efficiency opportunities currently are under-exploited by companies and consumers because of entrenched market, government, regulatory and financial failures.
“These barriers will only be removed through a concerted effort to drive economic and market reforms at Member State and European level,” the letter claims. “Strong goals and measures at European level will be crucial in helping deliver these reforms.”
The letter emphasizes three conclusions that the European Council should support:
- Energy efficiency is fundamental to European competitiveness and must be the foundation of future energy and climate policy.
- Europe cannot afford to leave cost-effective energy-efficiency opportunities unexploited.
- The European Commission must develop new proposals for binding energy-efficiency goals and measures by October 2014.
“We are strong supporters of ambitious, binding legislation for 2030 and believe that this can only be positive for the economic, social and environmental good of European businesses and citizens,” the letter concludes. “We urge you to consider our point of view and to provide a level playing field for all the business groups involved in this debate.”
Here in the US, energy-efficiency programs are helping industry achieve higher energy savings, cost savings and productivity improvements, according to a recent report by the SEE Action Network and the Institute for Industrial Productivity (IIP). The report, which investigates successful and well-designed industrial energy-efficiency (IEE) programs in the United States, provides a strong case for industry participation in statewide programs.
Last year, Ceres and its Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR) released a report that said energy efficiency could be a multi-hundred-billion dollar investment opportunity in the United States, but better policies are required to unlock broad-based financing from institutional investors.