Gain without pain: towards a more rational use of energy
05 March 2008
At the Spring 2007 EU Summit, Member States committed themselves to taking the necessary measures to combat climate change and reduce Europe’s dependence on external energy supplies. Now they need to turn those promises into actions.
This Working Paper, which reflects the outcome of discussions over the past year in an EPC Task Force set up to consider this issue, points out that a great deal can be achieved by using energy more rationally and developing a competitive advantage in eco-innovation and green products. But the potential gains have not been fully exploited because of numerous obstacles and barriers which prevent the public sector, business and consumers from tapping into that potential.
This publication argues that these barriers can be overcome and identifies five policy tools which can be used to foster the rational use of energy and deliver significant progress in the short term:
pricing which ensures energy costs are paid by those who benefit from its use and reflects all the costs involved, with higher charges for wasted energy;
incentives and standards which encourage the take-up of existing energy-efficient technologies;
mechanisms which can turn long-term efficiency gains into upfront benefits;
using the public sector as both a lever and an example;
providing the information needed for individuals and companies to make rational choices.
The recommendations contained in this publication are targeted at EU policy-makers, Member States, regions and public-sector bodies, as well as the private sector. Having identified the tools which can be used to promote rational use of energy, it then analyses four key sectors: buildings, appliances, road transport and industry – and considers how the tools outlined above can be applied in each case to deliver short-term win-win solutions.
A more rational use of energy can make a significant contribution to meeting the challenges outlined above. It is also a way of achieving significant gains without pain; i.e. without requiring major changes in the way we live. However, action is needed now to make this possible and leadership will be required to ensure energy efficiency not only remains at the top of the EU agenda but also that the policies required are implemented effectively to meet the commitments which have been made.
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