Common Sense Policy in an age of austerity – why the UK needs a European Framework for Energy Efficiency
Over 100 representatives from British businesses and civil society organizations gathered at the House of Commons in London on 28 February, 2012 to discuss why, particularly in these times of austerity, the UK needs a European framework for energy efficiency. The debate which was co-organised by the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), the UK’s Associate Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) and All-Party Parliamentary Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency Group (FPEEG), was particularly relevant as the European Parliament’s ITRE committee had agreed a very forward-looking position on the Energy Efficiency Directive that morning
The Parliament vote set a positive tone for the debate and message from speakers was clear; the UK has the potential to lead the European energy efficiency market, helping not only to create significant jobs and growth opportunities for UK businesses but also to greatly contribute towards achieving the UK and the EU’s wider energy and climate goals. The Energy efficiency Directive is a vehicle to achieve all of this.
Leading British companies are supportive of European action.
According to Tony Robson, CEO of Knauf Insulation, ‘‘The UK has long history of energy efficiency legislation. It is one of the areas where the UK is at the centre of what is right and where the UK can take the lead in Europe ” Martin Schaer added; “We have technology and industry is willing to support”.
But If the EU does not support UK and European businesses, according to Sumir Karayi, CEO of 1E, ‘We will be left behind again as the US and emerging markets grow’.
The UK coalition government was urged to support a strong Directive
Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy, urged the coalition government to work with colleagues in the European Council to raise and not weaken the ambition of the Directive.
In response, the UK’s new Secretary for State for Energy and Climate, Mr Edward Davey, recognized that “energy efficiency is something we can do better together”. He added, “If we get the right Directive it could drive innovation and give investors the certainty they seek and it would good for the economy and competitiveness”. However, he stressed that,“Nevertheless, we need to be realistic [and] there will be some tough negotiations”.
The conclusion; whilst it is going to be a challenge to bridge the gap between the very strong Parliament text and the current very weak council position, the UK can and should lead the charge on the Energy Efficiency Directive.