Germany chems object to EU deal on energy efficiency targets

14 June 2012 16:24  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--A deal between EU institutions on key energy efficiency legislation could choke off economic growth in Europe, Germany’s chemical industry trade group VCI said on Thursday.

VCI said that under a political agreement on the EU energy efficiency directive - reached on Wednesday night between parliament, council and commission - the 27 member states will have to set targets and will have to report to Brussels how much energy they will be saving, in absolute terms, by 2020.

However, setting absolute saving targets would choke off much-needed economic growth in Europe, VCI general manager Utz Tillmann said.

“For an energy-intensive industry such as chemicals, an absolute savings target could mean that the industry can only produce a certain amount of product,” Tillmann said.

Economic growth generally implies higher energy consumption, even with energy efficiency measures in place, Tillmann said.

Politicians were making a big strategic mistake if they set absolute energy consumption levels while aiming to promote economic growth at the same time, he said.

“[An absolute target] will choke off the economic growth that we so urgently need in Europe now,” he said.

Such a target would deter companies in their investments in Europe, he added.

EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger welcomed the agreement on the energy efficiency directive.

"This is a big step ahead: for the very first time we have legally binding energy efficiency measures,” Oettinger said.

Europe is now much better placed to achieve its 20% energy efficiency target for 2020", he added.

In a statement, VCI said that Wednesday’s agreement effectively ends further negotiations on the matter, even though the EU Council and the EU Parliament still have to approve the energy efficiency directive.

VCI also fears that the savings target will further drive up already high European electricity prices, to the detriment of European-based chemicals and other industrial producers, it said.

Furthermore, the deal should have gone further in promoting energy savings in building and construction - in particular through renovating and upgrading buildings, the group added.

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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