Carbon pricing in buildings? Help renovate and switch to renewables first

Including buildings in an emissions trading scheme will have a limited impact on emissions and should, at most, complement other measures like substantially increasing renovation rates, switching to renewables and phasing out fossil fuels subsidies, writes on Euractiv Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy.

On 14 July, the European Commission unveiled its long-awaited roadmap to reach the European Union’s higher emissions reduction target for 2030, the so-called “Fit for 55” package.

No wonder it chose the day traditionally celebrating the French revolution as the scope and ambitions of this massive legislative package are considerable. With it, came the proposal of setting up a parallel Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for road transport and heating fuels, certainly one of the most contentious measures of the package.

According to the Commission, this proposal aims to address the lack of emissions reductions in road transport and buildings, which together account for almost 60% of EU emissions. Over the last few years, emissions from the building sector have not decreased significantly, while those from road transport have even increased.

The need to act fast and with concrete steps to reduce emissions in these sectors is clear. So seems the Commission’s logic behind the proposal: if the ETS brought emissions down in the energy sector, why wouldn’t it be the case for buildings and road transport?

There are a few reasons why carbon pricing in buildings could at best complement, but not replace – and should not distract from – policies and incentives to substantially increase renovation rates, switch to renewables and phase out fossil fuels subsidies.

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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.

 

Download the full letter here

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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.

 

Download the letter here

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Open letter: An ambitious Renovation Wave now

Brussels, 14 September 2020

 

In December 2019, the Renovation Wave was announced as a key European initiative to support the European Green Deal. It has been made clear that decarbonising the EU’s building stock will support massive job creation and sustainable growth, driving the economic recovery from the ongoing economic and health crisis.

We have been very supportive of this flagship EU initiative since the start. This is why we now express our concern on the recently announced delay to the presentation of this vital initiative in addition to the apparent lack of dedicated EU funding for this initiative.

The foundations for an effective and ambitious Renovation Wave based on concrete actions and ‘shovel-ready’ solutions must be:

Integrated building renovations: Boosting integrated renovations for energy efficient, renewable-based and flexible buildings, to attain climate neutrality in the most cost-effective and timely manner, including the development of industrial style renovations to accelerate speed,

Energy Efficiency and Renewables First principle: in line with the Energy System Integration Strategy and the upcoming Climate Law, these principles must be applied to all aspects of building renovations, also looking at the broader energy system dimension and improving the Indoor Environmental Quality, health and wellbeing of people,

Dedicated financial flows: it is crucial to secure a dedicated financial envelope within the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and other available funding sources, to increase the rate and quality of the renovation and to support integrated building renovations that will deliver decarbonisation before 2050. Instead of an unclear allocation of resources to integrated building renovations within InvestEU, a dedicated “European Renovation Financing Facility”, financed with at least 90 billion euros per annum, would be fit for this purpose,

Structured partnership: it is key to regularly bring together Member States, regional governments, financial institutions, consumer organisations and stakeholders involved in integrated building renovations to report on progress, identify bottlenecks and remedial actions to ensure the pace of renovations remains aligned to the need for decarbonisation before 2050. An alignment with the European Climate Pact would strengthen the ownership of integrated building renovations by citizens and local communities.

The European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy recently made concrete and ambitious proposals to make the Renovation Wave a success. We now call on the other EU institutions and on EU Member States to demonstrate the same level of ambition and we are at your disposal to work with you and roll out the full potential of this initiative.

Signatories

 

Download the letter here

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EUASE welcomes climate neutrality and energy efficiency in EU climate law, regrets lack of engagement on 2030 target

Brussels, 4 March 2020 – Today the European Commission unveiled its proposal for a European Climate Law, which enshrines the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 into EU legislation. The text establishes that, when setting a trajectory to reach such a goal, the Commission shall take into consideration “energy efficiency, energy affordability and security of supply” among other elements.

We welcome the fact that the climate law enshrines the climate neutrality objective into EU legislation. We are also glad to see that the Commission will have to consider energy efficiency when setting the EU trajectory towards climate neutrality” – said Monica Frassoni, President of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE). “We look forward to continuing to work with EU institutions and Member States to highlight how Energy Efficiency First is an indispensable principle to reduce emissions, integrate RES, and achieve a fast, fair and cost-effective transition to a climate neutral EU,” she added.

We do regret nevertheless that the Commission did not already include an intermediate emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030, considering the urgency of the situation and the devastating impact of climate change on our economies and societies,” President Frassoni stated. “We are also disappointed to see that the impact assessment is confirmed for September 2020. We believe that such assessment should be ready by June at the latest to let the EU take the lead in the next global meeting on climate change happening at the COP26 in Glasgow. We call on the EP and Council to improve the current draft during the upcoming legislative process.”

 

Media contact:

Matteo Guidi

+32 493 37 21 42 – matteo.guidi@euase.eu

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