Open letter to ECON and BUDG Committees Members: A green recovery for Europe

In view of the ongoing discussion in the European Parliament on the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation, the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) sent a letter to the Members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Budgets (BUDG) Committees calling for a green recovery for current and future generations.

The letter states:

The Covid-19 pandemic is hitting the economy of the European Union hard. This urges a rapid, coordinated, and forward-looking response to cope with unprecedented health, economic and social consequences for all.

From a business perspective we are convinced that such response requires the EU recovery plans to support sustainable investments in projects and reforms fully aligned with the Paris agreement objectives and the goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Indeed, a large number of authoritative studies and economic research1,2 show that a green recovery holds the opportunity to provide short term boost to local economies and job creation while supporting, in the long term, the modernisation of our economic system and the ecological transition.

For these reasons and in view of the current discussion on the Recovery and Resilience Facility Regulation (RRF), we call on you to follow the indications received by your colleagues of the ENVI Committee in its Opinion of 14 October 2020 and in particular to ensure that:

At least 40% of the RRF’s total budget is earmarked to finance climate actions and addresses, over the next ten years, the economic, health, environmental and social consequences of climate changes, especially on the young and future generations.

The EU Taxonomy is used to assess both the eligibility and tracking of the investments included in the national recovery and resilience plans.

The RRF supports the achievement of the energy and climate targets for 2030 and 2050. In this perspective, national recovery and resilience plans should prioritise investments in areas such as energy efficient building renovations rather than lock-in resources in fossil fuel infrastructures that undermine the achievement of the Union’s climate and environmental objectives.

 

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Unique gathering of organisations call for more ambitious climate targets

Ahead of the European Council’s discussion on the ambition level of the new 2030 climate target, a unique gathering of businesses, investor groups, local and regional authorities and NGOs published a joint letter calling on the EU leaders to agree on the most ambitious target level.

Signed by the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) and other 46 organisations, representing over 2.700 cities, 330 regions, €62 trillion in investment portfolio, more than 800 companies and 330 NGOs, the joint letter clearly expresses the desire of European stakeholders to have the EU’s 2030 climate target substantially increased. Building on the recent proposal from the European Commission, the signatories hope European Member States will improve what is proposed, and in particular call for decisive action to remove emissions through Nature Based Solutions to come on top of the needed strong emission reductions in other sectors.

The letter welcomes the Commission’s proposal to substantially increase the EU’s 2030 climate target and states that the Member States should agree on at least -55% while some civil society organisations supporting the letter are already calling for at least -65% emission reductions. European stakeholders encourage Member States to achieve increased climate target both by strong emission reductions as well as decisive action to remove emissions through Nature Based Solutions in line with the need to protect Europe’s biodiversity.

European cities, regions, businesses, investors, NGOs and local communities, underline that only ambitious climate action can avert the most dire future costs of climate change impacts and provide a unique societal and economic opportunity to achieve a socially just transition for all European regions.

 

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Renewable and efficiency businesses highlight priorities for increased climate ambition

Together with a large group representing Europe’s renewable and systemic energy efficiency value chains, EU-ASE sent a letter to the cabinet of European Council President Charles Michel.

The signatories strongly welcomed the increased ambition recently announced by the Commission, which builds on the key pillars supported by our associations: the combination of the energy efficiency first principle with the transition to renewable energies, with a specific emphasis on the electricity, heating & cooling, building and transport sectors.

The letter states:

“The good news is that technologies are available. However, barriers still prevent their uptake. Therefore, we need bold and urgent action from your side.”

The group highlighted four top priorities to ensure an increased climate ambition by 2030. These are:

  • The need to systematically apply the “energy efficiency first principle” as an essential enabler for decarbonisation, by reducing energy demand and costs associated with energy production, infrastructure and use.
  • The need to recognise “flexibility” as a core driver for the energy transition with dedicated measures to promote key elements such as efficient system management, energy storage, waste heat recovery and demand response technologies.
  • The need to actively facilitate customer choice towards the most cost-efficient technologies with the highest impact in terms of energy efficiency and CO2 emission reduction, building on the huge potential of digitalisation with smart technologies and controls, and with measures aimed at creating a level playing field for all energy carriers.
  • The need to sustain European excellence in renewable energies and their efficient use by further paving the way for the ambitious deployment of all renewables, with measures aimed at making use of and future-proofing Europe’s energy infrastructure as well as unlocking investments into the deployment of new, innovative technologies.

 

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A smart, energy efficient and fair Renovation Wave for a faster economic recovery

In an open letter sent to the European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson, the group of progressive businesses and NGOs which constitute the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) called on the Commission to present an ambitious Renovation Wave initiative based on the energy efficiency first principle and funded by sufficient and dedicated resources.

In the broader energy system integration context, the letter states, the energy efficiency first principle must guide all building renovations’ decision-making processes. This implies the recognition of buildings as strategic and priority infrastructure for Europe.

With regards to resources, it is crucial to secure dedicated financial envelopes for building renovations within the National Recovery and Resilience Plans, InvestEU and the post 2020 Cohesion funds. Funds should be clearly earmarked and conditioned to increase the rate, depth and quality of integrated building renovations, the signatories write. The granting of financial support should follow the ratio “unit of energy saved (or CO2 saved) per invested Euro”, to ensure cost-effectiveness measurements of investments supported by EU funds.

Moreover, an ambitious Renovation Wave should focus on immediate, efficient heat decarbonisation. This is a great opportunity to accelerate the decarbonisation of heat in Europe’s buildings by combining energy efficiency, digitalisation and direct electrification with the deployment of smart, efficient, responsive electric heating and district level heating solutions. These can secure immediate carbon savings in buildings through existing and cost-effective solutions, enabling the use of waste heat and by the same token allow to prioritise limited green hydrogen capacity for deployment in harder-to-abate sectors, such as industry and freight.

From an environmental perspective, evidence shows that the Renovation Wave is a conditio sine qua non to reach the increased GHG emissions target for 2030 and climate-neutrality by 2050. Smarter and energy efficient buildings not only contribute directly to the reduction of energy demand and GHG emissions, but they are a prerequisite for a faster and deeper integration of renewables. 

The synergy between energy efficiency first in the building stock and the acceleration of renewable energy penetration is the real game changer and essential driver of the inevitable transformation of our energy system.

 

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EU-ASE supports call from over 150 CEOs urging EU to raise 2030 emissions target

In a critical year for climate action, five years on from the landmark Paris Agreement and with the clock ticking for countries to ratchet up ambition before the end of the 2020, CEOs from over 150 European businesses, investors and business networks are calling on EU policymakers to support an EU 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of at least 55%, necessary to raise the pace and focus of transition efforts for the EU to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) and its President Monica Frassoni are proud to support this call and to join such group of progressive businesses at a crucial time for Europe and the World. Among EU-ASE membership, the signatories include the CEOs of the following companies: Signify, Schneider Electric, Saint-Gobain, and Knauf Insulation.

The letter states:

“What we urgently need to see next is an ambitious implementation of the recovery package focused on achieving a green and digital transition, with the European Green Deal at its core and an elevated short-term emissions reduction target in its sights.”

“The right decisions now can help create and protect healthy, thriving and fair communities and secure a roadmap for a prosperous economy. Delivering Europe’s long-term ambition to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050 requires an extensive set of urgent measures to scale up action. From a business and investor perspective, clarity on the net zero transition pathway and timetables for each sector, as well as policy that enables substantial investments in carbon neutral solutions is essential.

“We are writing to call on you, as European leaders, to avoid the worst effects of climate change and secure a sustainable, competitive economic recovery by:

  • endorsing the ambition set out in the European Green Deal
  • submitting resilient recovery plans which enable the green investments needed to deliver climate neutrality
  • agreeing a clearly defined target to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and associated objectives

“We understand the risks posed by climate change and biodiversity loss to our businesses and are already working to unlock change in key economic sectors. Investors, banks and insurers are working to transition portfolios to net zero emissions. More than 900 companies are taking science-based climate action and more than 400 have approved science-based targets. We are investing heavily in clean energy, energy efficiency and electrification, lowering emissions across value chains and the lifecycle of our products, and developing better practices in the bioeconomy.”

As a strong signal of business and investor leadership for a healthy, resilient, zero carbon recovery, the letter is being profiled by the UN Climate Champions Race To Zero campaign at the Opening Day of Climate Week NYC. The letter is being presented to Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

The signatories, members of the Corporate Leaders Groups, the We Mean Business coalition, as well as IIGCC and Business Ambition for 1.5C, and many business networks from across Europe, acknowledge the urgency of the climate crisis, calling on the EU to lead the way towards decarbonisation of the global economy by 2050 at the latest.

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