2020 vision: Saving our energy
Author: European Commission: The European Union is facing unprecedented energy challenges. These are the result of its increased dependence on energy imports, as well as concerns about supplies of fossil fuels and the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, Europe continues to waste at least a fifth of its energy, just through sheer inefficiency. And this is despite the fact that saving energy is by far the most effective way to simultaneously improve security of energy supply and to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Saving energy also helps to foster economic competitiveness and to stimulate the development of leading edge markets for energy-efficient technologies and products. EU Heads of State or Government have stressed the need to increase energy efficiency, and the EU intensified its efforts as the European Commission presented in October 2006 a wide-ranging action plan for energy efficiency. The action plan outlines a framework of policies and measures designed to realise the estimated savings potential of over 20 % of the EUs annual primary energy consumption by 2020, compared with the business-as-usual scenario. The plan also looks to reinforce Europes position as a world leader in energy efficiency. It intends to mobilize the general public, market actors and policymakers, transforming the EU energy market so as to provide citizens with the most energy-efficient infrastructure, buildings, appliances, and means of transport possible. Realizing the EUs energy-saving potential will indeed require far-reaching changes in the way energy is consumed. A paradigm shift is needed in the way society behaves, so that Europeans use less energy while still enjoying the same quality of life. Producers will have to be encouraged to develop more energy efficient technologies and products, while consumers will need stronger incentives to buy such products and use them rationally. Europeans need to save energy. Europe wastes at least 20 % of the energy it uses. By saving energy, Europe will help address climate change, as well as its rising consumption, and its dependence on fossil fuels imported from outside the Unions borders, said EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs as the Commission presented the action plan. Energy efficiency is crucial for Europe: if we take action now, the direct cost of our energy consumption could be reduced by more than EUR 100 billion annually by 2020; around 780 million tonnes of CO2 will also be avoided yearly, the Commissioner pointed out.