The UK Government has been criticised for its role in “watering down” new EU laws which set legally binding energy efficiency laws for European countries.
The EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive means all Member States have to bring in energy saving schemes, led by the public sector. It also reinforces the EU’s 20% energy savings target by 2020.
Energy Secretary Ed Davey said the move “signals a step change in energy efficiency” which “at a time of economic challenge will help improve the EU’s competitiveness and boost growth.”
He said the UK “played a central role in not only brokering a deal but also increasing its ambition.”
But environmentalists have contradicted him, lambasting the Government for “being instrumental in watering down the proposals.”
Zoe Leader, energy efficiency policy officer at WWF-UK, said: “Despite plenty of rhetoric from the Government on the importance of energy efficiency their position throughout the negotiations has effectively scuppered the potential for real energy savings across Europe.”
WWF-UK claims the UK insisted on changes to the EED that “effectively provided the UK with get-out clauses.”
Friends of the Earth (FOE) agreed the UK seems to have given itself “loopholes” for the targets.
Dave Timms, FOE Energy Campaigner said: “The UK Government played a significant role in weakening the directive by opposing an overall binding energy saving target and insisting on loopholes so it could meet its obligation by claiming credit for old energy efficiency policies.”
But DECC have denied the claims saying the directive “..signals a step change in energy efficiency and for the first time sets legally binding energy saving targets, which at a time of economic challenge will help improve the EU’s competitiveness and boost growth. This Directive is also testament to how the EU can work together to tackle major challenges and make a difference.
“The UK supported the move to ambitious binding energy saving targets throughout the negotiations and played a crucial role in defining this target so that progress can be clearly and effectively demonstrated. We have also worked hard to ensure that the target provides sufficient incentive for longer term measures that will continue to deliver into the future”.