To get rid of Russian fossil fuels, the EU needs to put energy savings first

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition, write Monica Frassoni and Harry Verhaar in Euractiv.

The aggression against Ukraine by Putin is not only a tragic reminder that peace is never an evidence but also another powerful reminder of the urgency of getting rid of our dependence on fossil fuels and accelerating the full implementation of an ambitious Green Deal. Over the past decades, the EU hesitated to address its reliance on fossil fuels import, a well-known threat to the block’s energy security.

In 2021 the EU imported more than 40% of its fossil gas consumption from Russia, about 155 billion cubic meters. A considerable amount of this gas is needed to heat Europe’s old and inefficient buildings. Fossil gas accounts for more than 32% of the EU’s final energy consumption in households. If we also consider the indirect use of gas for electricity production, we have the extent of Europe’s gas reliance problem and the risks of its dependency on energy imports.

We welcomed the immediate reaction of the Commission in March with the REPowerEU communication, despite its excessive focus on diversification of gas supply. We are confident that the action plan published on 18 May will be much more coherent with the need to reduce our dependence on Russian gas and fossil fuels altogether through an acceleration of energy efficiency measures and renewables deployment.

The REPowerEU plan must come with credible, actionable measures that governments, citizens and industry can implement by following the Green Deal agenda and notably energy savings measures. To support this, the EU can count on clean, made-in-Europe technologies that are at the heart of the energy transition. A broad range of short and mid-term measures to address the energy and climate crisis is available. We believe that by deploying energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry, transport and the water sector, Europe can deliver massive energy savings and substantially reduce Europe’s fossil fuel imports.

Read the full article in Euractiv 

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Interview with Radio24 (Italy)

The European Parliament last week voted by a large majority for a resolution calling for further sanctions against Russia, as well as for an amendment for a complete and immediate EU embargo on imports of Russian oil, coal, nuclear fuel and gas.

EU-ASE president Monica Frassoni was interviewed on this topic on the morning programme of Radio24, Italy’s leading business radio station.

The podcast is available here (in Italian)

L'Europa vota per l'embargo alla Russia

by Radio24 with Monica Frassoni

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Letter in Financial Times: Renovating buildings will help reduce energy bills

On 9 November the Financial Times published in its print edition a letter by the president of the European Alliance to Save Energy, Monica Frassoni.

Stepping up building energy renovations offers a solution to the issue of soaring energy bills, yet this is overlooked by decision makers, the letter says.

Today, which energy efficient technologies, it is possible to reduce buildings’ energy needs for heating and cooling by 60%. Still the average renovation rate of the EU’s building stock remains under 1% per year.

With over 34m people living in energy poverty, we are playing with fire, the letter continues. Energy efficiency is a rational, cost-effective and systemic solution for the energy price surge.

Read the full letter here

The letter can also be found on the FT website.

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Interview with Debating Europe

EU-ASE president Monica Frassoni was interviewed by Debating Europe as part of the debate How can we make Europe’s buildings more energy-efficient?, organised in cooperation with the Climate Pact. During the interview, she replied to the questions sent by European citizens on the topic.

Watch the debate How can we make Europe’s buildings more energy efficient?

Debating Europe is a project of Friends of Europe. It hosts a successful online discussion platform based on a simple model: citizens ask questions, policymakers and experts respond. Since launching, it has built a 6 million strong community of citizens and a social media following of over 271,000 people from across Europe. To date, a selection of 180,000 questions has been put to over 3000 key policymakers and experts.

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A three-step recipe to transform our buildings | EUSEW 2021

by Bertrand Deprez, Vice-President EU Government Affairs at Schneider Electric and board member of the European Alliance to Save Energy, & Céline Carré, Head of European Public Affairs at Saint-Gobain, a member of the European Alliance to Save Energy.

This is no secret: with more than 38% of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions, buildings represent one of the largest bulk of decarbonisation. And with 40% of energy consumption, they can even lead the energy efficiency race. However, so far, the efforts deployed at the European and national levels to accelerate the renovation of the buildings stock have not been sufficient to drive their long-term decarbonisation. If we want this to change, and to make highly efficient buildings in a fully decarbonised and connected energy system a reality, three levers should be activated simultaneously.

First, aligning hearts and minds around the unique contribution of buildings can happen via the joint revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Energy Efficiency Directive and Renewable Energy Directive. The Renovation Wave strategy has set the direction, but specific milestones and acceleration points now need to take shape. Among those are minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) on existing buildings, a tool to drive demand for renovation. Such MEPS should be deployed for first movers segments, such as non-residential and worst-performing residential buildings particularly affected by soaring energy prices. Then, new and existing buildings should be made fit for our 2050 carbon neutrality goals. In this journey, better accounting for reflecting emissions reduction potentials from new buildings and major renovations, on top of energy savings, will also help coordinate and align actions, especially when it comes to boosting the uptake of both energy efficiency measures and renewables, such as directly electrified solutions powered by renewables.

Second, unleashing new business models to finance and roll out renovations will ensure that the ambition is fulfilled. Deploying renovation and recovery is a combined challenge of preparedness and speed. The construction sector is getting ready with new approaches enabling to renovate faster and better. We need more innovators and integrators to plug these new business models together with available finance. The implementation of the post Covid-19 national recovery plans is a unique opportunity to fill the gap in this field.

Read the full article on the EUSEW 2021 blog

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