EU public bodies urged to cut energy use

European Commission proposes energy efficiency strategy, stresses green public procurement

The European Commission has proposed strengthened EU measures for saving energy and has targeted procurement by EU, government and local authority institutions as a key area for action. In a communication released yesterday, the Commission said it would put forward new legislation aimed at getting public bodies to favour more energy efficient buildings, equipment and vehicles.

In the communication - "Energy efficiency in the European Community - Towards a Strategy for the Rational Use of Energy" - the Commission admits that recent attempts to improve the EU's energy efficiency have failed. The SAVE programme launched in 1991 achieved only just over half the targeted decrease in energy intensity by 1995, the Commission says. "Even more alarming," was the fact that annual improvements in energy intensity fell from 2% between 1985 and 1990 to just 0.6% between 1990 and 1995.

The new paper - which will be the basis for a forthcoming EU action plan - sets a target of improving the EU's current rate of energy intensity improvement by an additional 1% per annum, with the aim of achieving an 18% cut in 1995's energy intensity by 2010.

New legal proposals promised in yesterday's document would mean governments, local authorities and EU institutions would have to follow energy efficiency guidelines when they purchase or refurbish new buildings, equipment and automobiles. The Commission - which in previous documents has already stated that public procurement should be greener (ENDS Daily 22 October 1997) - will spell out the details in a draft directive on "energy management" by public institutions.

The document also promises to revise the existing EU directive 93/76 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions through energy efficiency, which, the Commission admits, has not been sufficiently observed by member states. That legislation aimed to promote greater use of energy metering and measures such as energy surveys on homes when they are bought and sold. Many member states failed instigate the measures and the revised directive will seek to make the EU law more enforceable at a national level.

EU ministers will discuss the ideas when they meet in Brussels on 11 May. The UK presidency is keen to push ahead with measures on energy efficiency, according to Brussels sources, because it is considered a cost-effective way of contributing to the greenhouse gas reductions required under the Kyoto protocol.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 295 1111.

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