A group of prominent business leaders has written to the European Commission president urging him to back a more supportive policy framework for energy efficiency investment.
The letter, which was signed by the chief executives of 20 leading firms including Veolia, Philips Lighting and Kingspan, last week called on Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to personally commit to ensuring strong energy efficiency legislation featuring a new binding target is passed. It argued that energy efficiency is a "key political priority" capable of delivering economic growth, job creation, energy security and independence, all of which should be priorities for the bloc in the wake of the recent Brexit vote.
The executives also called for the EU to step up efforts to align its 2030 energy and climate change framework with the higher ambition of the Paris Agreement, arguing that energy efficiency is "the key to enable energy and climate policies and must therefore come first in the design of the European energy policy framework".
In addition, the letter highlighted the need for re-industrialisation driven by low-carbon business models, sustainable investment and innovation.
"Europe is facing a continued growth and investment crisis," the letter reads. "Energy efficiency is a clear opportunity for the recovery of EU real economy as well as historically being one of the key competitive advantages of European industries. Through energy efficiency, energy can be saved and resources can be reinvested in high value EU modernisation projects for supporting economic activities and quality job creation."
The call from businesses comes ahead of the European Commission's decision this week on its proposed target for the Effort Sharing Decision (ESD), which will put forward emission reduction goals for between 2021 to 2030 for sectors not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System, such as the buildings sector, transport, agriculture and waste.
Meanwhile, the Commission is continuing to work on the EU's energy efficiency package, which is expected in early October, and is expected to include the Commission's proposal for a 2030 energy efficiency target. Currently the EU has a non-binding target to reduce energy use by at least 27 per cent compared to projected energy use by 2030, and the Commission has proposedincreasing the target to 30 per cent. But the chief executives' letter urged for the level of ambition of the target to be significantly raised as well as made binding, adding that the current target "barely corresponds to business-as-usual".
Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) which organised the letter urged for a "cost-effective ambitious target" to be set at 40 per cent for 2030, a goal also supported by the European Parliament. Frassoni said the more ambitious target would double EU's current rate of energy productivity from its current 1.5 per cent a year improvement to three per cent annually.
According to the letter, meeting the target would boost GDP in the EU and deliver over one million high-quality jobs mostly in the construction sector.
"These last weeks have been characterized by uncertainty," said Frassoni in a statement. "Businesses and employees do not need that. Stronger and better EU integration lies on sustainable growth and relies on competitive industrial sectors that have a future and proactive role in the global vision agreed at the COP21 last year."