EU-ASE and the Grupo Español para el Crecimiento Verde hosted an event on Next Generation EU and Spain
On Thursday 22 April (10:00-12:15 CET) we organised, together with the Grupo Español para el Crecimiento Verde, a high-level discussion on the Spanish Recovery and Resilience plan.
The aim of the event was, on the one hand, to analyse in depth how the expectations of the Government and different areas of the Administration regarding the Next Generation EU funds fit with the capacities of the industry and the private sector. On the other hand, to learn in detail about the mechanisms that will be used to channel projects funding.
The webinar Plan de recuperación, resiliencia y sostenibilidad social y ambiental para salir de la crisis saw the participation of representatives of the Spanish government and regional and local authorities.
The event was held in Spanish (no translation provided).
Reducing energy demand and increasing energy efficiency in the buildings sector is a prerequisite for achieving the EU’s energy and climate objectives. This position paper calls on the European Commission to revise the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD), aligning its objectives with the European Green Deal.
The revision of the EPBD is a unique opportunity to increase energy savings, optimise energy consumption and reduce GHG emissions from the buildings sector.
In this respect, the EPBD should introduce new policy signals to stimulate a minimum of a 3% renovation rate per year combined with an average energy efficiency improvement of 75% across Europe. This will help the EU to reach its environmental goals while contributing to fast economic recovery, local job creation and delivering of multiple benefits to citizens.
Currently, building renovations occur at a slow pace in the European Union. Only 1% of the total building stock undergoes renovations annually, an insufficient rate to make buildings fit for the EU’s climate goals. To achieve the objectives of the European Green Deal, the decade 2020-2030 must be the witness of an unprecedented wave of renovations resulting in emissions cuts from buildings by 60% by 2030.
The paper presents seven recommendations aimed to:
- Acknowledge buildings as energy infrastructure and apply the Energy Efficiency First principle
- Phase in Minimum Energy Performance Standards for all the existing building stock
- Aim for energy efficient, flexible, and smart-ready buildings
- Promote a neighbourhood approach to maximise energy efficiency
- Update the Energy Performance Certificates, introduce digital Building Renovation Passports and explore the link with the Digital Building Logbook
- Provide more and better technical assistance and build capacity to increase the demand of renovation projects
- Ensure all new buildings are both highly efficient and fossil free from 2025 onwards
The introduction of a carbon price in the building sector will only encourage fuel switching and risks burdening those least able to pay with the cost of decarbonisation. If implemented, it should be complemented with legislation to boost energy efficiency.
by Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE)
At the end of 2020 European Union leaders agreed to increase the bloc’s emission-reduction target to at least 55% by 2030, confirming the EU’s commitment to becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. If the EU wants to achieve this ambitious goal, it needs to increase its action to decarbonise one of its most energy-intensive and polluting sectors: buildings.
As an example, the CO2 emissions from space and water heating in residential buildings represent 12% of the total EU emissions, as much as all cars in Europe combined. This is the case because more than 75% of the energy produced for heating homes currently comes from fossil fuels. Switching from fossil to low or zero-carbon fuels has an enormous potential in terms of CO2 savings—an estimated 291 tonnes of CO2 by 2050.
In this context, the European Union is discussing the opportunity to establish a carbon price in the building sector. However, that is far from being simple.
Before implementing carbon pricing, lawmakers must carefully assess its different modalities (from a tax to market-based instruments, such as an emissions trading system) and impact on the building sector, in light of its specificities. These include the low-price elasticity of energy demand, which shows that energy prices are inelastic in both the short and long term: energy consumption will fall by less than 1% in response to a 1% increase in energy prices. Such low elasticity could only be overcome with a significantly higher CO2 price.
Moreover, carbon pricing for buildings may be ineffective due to the peculiar management or ownership structure of the sector. This generates split incentives which tend to blur the responsibilities and the related costs for fuel switch. Even if a fuel switch is achieved, a carbon price alone is expected to have a limited impact in terms of buildings’ energy efficiency gains, which are crucial for achieving decarbonisation quicker and with fewer resources through renovations—especially deep ones—of the existing building stock.
Deploying technical assistance and building up administrative and logistical capacity is key to boost building renovation projects across Europe and pave the way for a green recovery.
In a letter addressed to the European Commission’s Recovery and Resilience Task Force, the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE) stressed the importance of strengthening technical assistance for energy efficiency renovations to deliver the economic and political capital of Recovery and Resilience Plans.
The letter says:
“With specific regard to building renovations, we notice that in the draft RRPs there is a general lack of focus on technical assistance, despite the central role it plays in removing the administrative, financial and other practical hurdles for ministries, cities, local authorities, businesses and households to renovate our common building stock.
Due to the specific nature of building renovation programmes and related financial and non-financial barriers that hinder their full deployment, we would suggest that at least 4% of funds allocated to building renovations are spent on technical assistance. For example, this would enable proactive support for public authorities to map out their buildings stock, prepare good long-term renovation strategies, and develop and aggregate renovation proposals5. In addition, these funds could be invested in education and training of workforce (upskilling and reskilling) as well as in information campaigns to increase citizens and businesses’ awareness about the multiple benefits that renovations bring in terms of cost-savings, comfort, improved living conditions and increased productivity.
RECOVER can play a decisive role at this stage of the RRP process by making sure Member States are aware of the importance of integrating horizontal technical assistance programmes in their plans. The clear rationale is that deploying technical assistance and building up administrative and logistical capacity is an enabler for ensuring that the benefits of a swift and green recovery are delivered and felt across countries, regions, cities and individual households.
The alternative is the very real risk of jeopardising the recovery funds’ economic and political capital and its multiple benefits for citizens, the clean energy transition and, ultimately, the European integration project.”