‘Flagship’ EU plans to kickstart large-scale building
renovations and energy poverty action, unveiled today by the European Commission, are a step in the right direction, says
Friends of the Earth Europe.
The ‘Renovation Wave’ strategy had been much anticipated
by social and environmental groups - offering a potential ‘win-win-win’
opportunity to tackle climate change, poverty rates and to pioneer sustainable
jobs for economic recovery. But today’s plans do not go far enough in reducing
energy poverty, nor fast enough in making all Europe’s buildings zero carbon in
line with the Paris agreement, said the environmental group.
Right direction, wrong speed
The Renovation Wave includes a promise to introduce
legally binding minimum energy performance standards - which would help reduce
emissions from Europe's most decrepit and energy-wasteful homes.
However the proposal to only double the current - low
- rate of building renovations would not be quick enough to move Europe rapidly
towards highly energy efficient and zero carbon buildings.
Buildings are the single largest energy consumer in Europe and an important missing link in climate
action. However member states continue to falter on meeting even existing meagre efficiency
Today’s strategy targets some renovations for
energy-poor households. But this is unlikely to make a significant dent in
Europe’s crippling levels of energy poverty. 1 in 4 Europeans are unable to
adequately light, heat or cool their homes. And poor quality housing is linked
to 100,000 premature deaths a year.
Martha Myers, energy poverty campaigner for Friends of
the Earth Europe said:
“As the Covid-19 crisis
pushes many energy poor households to the brink, we need a revolution in
building renovations to slash our emissions, create green jobs, and provide
warm, decent and zero carbon homes for everyone. Leaky roofs, unhealthy homes,
and wasted energy must be a thing of the past.
“Today’s Renovation Wave announcement is a case of the
right direction, but the wrong speed - the European Commission is not going
fast enough in ramping up renovations to tackle the climate crisis, nor
prioritising the millions of Europeans living in inadequate homes. The
Commission’s lofty words would be more credible if matched by far reaching
action to triple renovations and targeted funding for those living in energy
renovation rates are set to double from 1% to 2% of buildings per year, or 35 million
renovated buildings by 2030. This is a slow start to reach net-zero building
stock. Europe needs to at least triple the current annual renovation rate, and focus on deep renovations: if renovations remain shallow, they will
fail to significantly dent greenhouse gas emissions.
A welcome promise to
introduce legally binding minimum energy performance standards in 2021 -
a necessary step to make all Europe’s buildings low carbon and liveable,
helping reduce emissions from Europe's most inefficient homes.
Only limited action
for energy poor households. The plan does not commit to ring-fencing EU
funding to drive renovations where they are most needed, for the energy
fragmented and reliant on
member states. One stop shops are welcome, but money needs to be urgently
directed to energy poor housing. Social and environmental groups advocate for
public investment of €260 billion per year.
Guidelines on energy poverty
Guidelines on energy poverty were also launched today
and included some important recommendations for member states, such as creating
national definitions and indicators to identify and measure energy poverty.
However, this guidance is not binding and offers no legislative references or
targets - at a time when Covid-19 has seen energy poverty rates
critical levels for over 50 million Europeans. Organisations such as the Right
to Energy Coalition
advocate a ban on disconnections and setting a baseline of clean and affordable
energy for all Europeans to end energy poverty.
Martha Myers added:
“These guidelines are helpful but they will need to be
legally binding to end the rising scourge of energy poverty in Europe. Europe’s
energy poor need a green bailout and must take centre stage as a primary target
group for energy efficiency and climate legislation action - not be left as a