Ieee bulletin ~ November 2015 Energy Efficiency

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IEEE Bulletin


November 2015


  1. Energy Efficiency: EC moots energy efficiency trading

  2. Energy Efficiency: MEPs fail to boost EU renewables, efficiency targets before COP21

  3. Energy Efficiency: Countries strike compromise on energy labels

  4. Energy Efficiency: Brussels gets tough on energy efficiency

  5. ETS: ETS rules too generous - court advisor

  6. ETS: Utilities see scope for more ambitious ETS

  7. ETS: Emissions Trading System revision crucial for a climate deal

  8. Carbon Storage: UK cancels pioneering carbon capture and storage competition

  9. Renewables: Renewables policy to target heating after 2020

  10. Environmental Data: Brussels reviews environmental data reporting

  11. Energy and Environment: EU to US: Paris climate deal must be legally binding

  12. Energy Union: Maroš Sefčovič Press Conference on the State of the Energy Union

  13. Energy: Brussels, Big Energy, & revolving doors: a hothouse for climate change

  14. Events

1. EC moots energy efficiency trading
The European Commission has raised the prospect of implementing an EU-wide energy efficiency trading scheme after 2020, as part of the review of the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive (EED). In a consultation on the review, recently launched, the Commission also seeks views on allowing countries to cooperate on energy savings by counting savings achieved in one member state towards another country’s or economic operator’s obligations. This could be modelled on the existing greenhouse gas cooperation mechanism under the Effort Sharing Decision, the Commission suggests. The review of the EED will be finalised in the second half of next year. The directive sets a 20% energy saving goal relative to business as usual for 2020.
The EU has already decided on a goal of at least 27% energy savings by 2030, and the Commission has suggested it will propose upping the target to 30% as part of the EED review. Under the EED, Member States have to set up an energy efficiency obligation scheme requiring utilities to save 1.5% of annual energy sales to final customers each year, or implement alternative measures to the same effect. The consultation asks whether this option to implement alternative measures should be scrapped along with a swathe of other exemptions introduced during lawmakers’ negotiations on the directive in 2012. Respondents are also asked whether the 1.5% annual energy savings requirement should be increased after 2020. The consultation asks whether energy efficiency obligations should also include “elements aimed at gradually increasing the minimum share of renewable energy” used by energy suppliers and distributors. Furthermore, the Commission is asking whether the EED’s mandatory public procurement requirements should be extended to public bodies other than central governments. The EED requires central governments to purchase only products, services and buildings with a high energy-efficiency performance. But the Commission notes that there has been “limited experience” in Member States of implementing the requirement. The Commission is also considering the impact on energy savings of the possibility for Member States to escape providing energy customers with individual metering and frequent billing if this is not considered to be technically feasible or cost effective. Respondents are asked whether rules on this should be set at EU level. Please note that the consultation will run until 29 January 2016.

 2. MEPs fail to boost EU renewables, efficiency targets before COP21
On 10th November, the European Parliament’s energy committee rejected a push by MEPs to increase the EU’s 2030 climate and energy targets and to make them legally binding. But the ITRE Committee did approve strong language demanding a role for the Parliament in the oversight of the Energy Union, the EU’s strategy to reduce the bloc’s vulnerability to shortages, and to bolster the fight against climate change. MEPs from the Greens, Liberals, Europe of Freedom and Democracy group and Socialist and Democrats failed to get changes to the committee’s report on Energy Union. The amendment – defeated by a single vote, according to Green MEP Claude Turmes – aimed to strengthen commitments made by EU leaders last October. Leaders agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2030. That is a binding target. But heads of state and government watered down the 2030 targets for renewables and for energy efficiency, which are not binding at national level.  They lowered a Commission-proposed 30% increase to at least 27%. That was seen as a backwards step after the binding 20% 2020 targets for efficiency and renewables agreed in the past.
MEPs called for three binding 2030 targets of at least 40% greenhouse gas emissions, at least 30% for renewables, and at least 40% for energy efficiency. The amendment was rejected 31 votes to 30, after opposition from the majority European People’s Party and the European Conservatives and Reformists Group. Turmes blamed the Socialists for the defeat. Some had voted against the amendment, while others had not turned up to the committee meeting at all. But the Luxembourgish MEP was optimistic that the amendment would be passed in a plenary vote of the Parliament in December. Turmes said that energy efficiency, particularly through building renovation, was the best way to fight climate change.
It is noted that world leaders are meeting in Paris for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) to try and agree an international deal to cap global warming. Depending on the results of the COP21, the European Commission and Council could revise the 2030 targets. ITRE vote clashes with a European Parliament resolution, recently backed by MEPs, with COP21 in mind. It reiterated support for an earlier February 2014 Parliament resolution that backed stronger 2030 targets.
The lack of binding renewables and efficiency targets at national level means that the Energy Union will need a governance framework to ensure the goals are met at EU level. MEPs across the political groups supported the report’s call for the new governance framework to be “fully inclusive of the European Parliament.” Turmes said the vote sent a message to the Commission’s Energy Union supremo Maroš Šefčovič before his expected announcement of the State of the Energy Union report next week. The report will sketch out the next step towards implementing the flagship strategy.


3. Countries strike compromise on energy labels

Member States will push for energy labels to be revised when 30% of products fall into the top energy class, or sooner in the case of product groups where there is less innovation. Earlier versions of the Council negotiating position on the revision of the EU’s energy labelling law had proposed a less ambitious threshold of 40%, and called for the expectation of further technological development in the short term to also be a precondition for revision. The European Commission should carry out a preparatory study before reviewing an energy label, according to the final draft agreed by member state experts. If the preparatory study demonstrates that the review conditions are unlikely to be fulfilled in the next seven years, it should be reviewed anyway. The final draft partly drops an earlier demand to leave just the highest A class empty on newly rescaled energy labels to encourage technological progress instead of both A and B classes as proposed by the Commission.
The Council draft, states A and B should be left empty “in exceptional cases, where technology is expected to develop more rapidly”. The Commission proposed the rescaling provisions last June in a bid to return to an A-G energy labelling scale. It argued that this is better understood by consumers than the additional A+ and higher classes that have been gradually added on as technological development has pushed most products in the top classes. The Council position also adds a requirement on suppliers not to place on the EU market products designed to allow cheating in test conditions resulting in a more favourable energy rating than their actual performance. Member States want to change the procedure for adopting product-specific energy labelling requirements by empowering a committee of member state experts to oversee their adoption by the Commission. The Commission proposed to continue with the current comitology procedure involving informal consultation with national experts and giving both the Council and the European Parliament the right of veto. MEP Dario Tamburrano (EFDD), who leads the Parliament’s work on the revision, is expected to present a draft position to the industry and energy committee before next year while a vote is scheduled for May.

 4. Brussels gets tough on energy efficiency
On 18 November, the European Commission announced seven new infringement decisions against Member States. France has been penalised for its failings in energy efficiency and the treatment of radioactive waste.  Brussels has ordered France and the Netherlands to fully transpose the 2012 Energy Efficiency Directive. This text contains energy efficiency obligations and incentives to encourage states to reduce their energy consumption between 1 January 2014 and 31 December 2020. It aims "to drive energy efficiency improvements in households, buildings, industry buildings and transport", according to a European Commission press release. For the European executive, the efforts of Paris and Amsterdam in this regard have been below par. France and the Netherlands will now have two months to fall into line or face financial sanctions and an appearance before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
Athens has also been summoned by the CJEU. Greece is accused of having forgotten to set minimum standards for energy efficiency in buildings. This essential mechanism allows regulators to assess the performance of renewable energies and energy savings measures against primary energy performance and costs, whilst taking into account the life-span of the building. It also allows the Commission to ensure that Member States have similar levels of ambition.
The Energy Efficiency Directive is one of the EU’s most violated laws. According to the summary published by Brussels, infringement notices have been delivered to all 28 Member States since July 2014, including 22 reasoned opinions and two referrals to the CJEU. France received its second reasoned opinion for its inadequate transposition of the 2011 Directive on radioactive waste. Paris has two months to bring its minimum security standards for the treatment of spent nuclear fuel up to the required standard.

5. ETS rules too generous - court advisor
EU industry is receiving too many free emission allowances and the rules need to be changed, an advocated General of the ECJ has said. A challenge by firms that wanted their free allowance allocation to be increased may backfire spectacularly if the court follows its advocate general’s advice and instead cuts industry’s free allowance rights. Industry sources said they were very concerned about the implications of the advocate general’s opinion, that free allocation to date has not been too low, as the firms argued, but, in fact, too high. The European Commission should be given one year to change the rules, the advocate general said in a lengthy and complicated opinion. The court is not bound to follow the advocate general’s advice, but usually does. The case concerns the cross-sectoral correction factor, which governs the maximum amount of free allowances available each year for 2013-20. The firms, including Dow Chemicals and Esso, challenged the way the correction factor was set in the Austrian, Dutch and Italian courts. Similar cases are also pending from Finland, Sweden, Spain and Germany.
Experts said the advocate general’s opinion could have major implications for the emissions trading system rules (ETS) for after 2020, which are currently being negotiated. The Commission proposed in July that the current system of exemptions to protect industry should continue out to 2030. “The Commission has recently proposed that more than 6 billion pollution permits will be given away for free to heavy industry between 2021 and 2030. European policymakers will need to reconsider if this number is not too high, especially now that the advisor to Europe’s highest court has said that Europe has been too generous towards heavy emitters in the current period,” said Femke de Jong of campaign group Carbon Market Watch. “Other energy-intensive industries are certainly not happy about the [opinion] itself but also about the timing as it affects the overall negotiating position of the industry,” said an industry source. The correction factors for 2013-20 for each plant are set in law and would be difficult to change, the source added. If the correction factor is tightened for 2021-30, the most affected sectors will be those that were brought into the ETS later, as these do not have unused allowances held over from earlier years.

6. Utilities see scope for more ambitious ETS
According to Eurelectric, the EU could raise its climate ambition following the upcoming Paris talks through a stricter emissions reduction target for sectors covered by the emissions trading system (ETS). The European Commission should consider a tighter emissions cap for ETS sectors, or strengthening the price signal using the new Market Stability Reserve, power producers’ association  according to the report that Eurelectric has published. A carbon offset credits from abroad could also be used, Eurelectric added. The EU has already decided to achieve its 40% emissions reduction target for 2030 with domestic action only, but Eurelectric said international credits could be a “viable option to alleviate any risk of price spikes and to increase mitigation ambition”. Non-trading sectors such as transport, buildings and agriculture “should also contribute in a balanced manner to any increase in ambition”, Eurelectric said in its reaction to ETS revision proposed by the Commission in July.
The Commission should further assess the option of extending the scheme to other sectors, including heating and cooling sector. Eurelectric also calls for an EU-wide approach to compensating industry for the indirect costs of emissions trading arising from higher electricity prices to guarantee a level playing field. The Commission’s proposal invites Member States to provide partial compensation in line with the EU’s state aid rules. Any compensation should be financed by revenues from the auctioning of allowances, according to Eurelectric. It should not be paid for through consumers’ electricity bills, as has been the case in some countries. The association also stressed the need to ensure funding for carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects under the proposed innovation fund. It argued that energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, which will compete with CCS for funding, already “benefit from a variety of national and European support programmes”.

7. Emissions Trading System revision crucial for a climate deal
According to Anja Kollmuss of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, without substantial reform of its Emissions Trading System, Europe cannot seriously claim a leadership role at the international negotiations in and after Paris. It is noted that Climate Action Network Europe is a coalition of over 130 organisations - representing over 44 million citizens – working to prevent dangerous climate change. The EU portrays itself as a leader at the upcoming climate negotiations in Paris. But can the EU really be a model for the rest of the world given its limited ambition and the failure of its flagship policy instrument, the Emissions Trading System, to drive decarbonsation? The EU is pushing for a five year review cycle in the upcoming Paris agreement. Such a ratcheting-up mechanism is absolutely vital, since the current pledges from countries are woefully insufficient and will still lead to three degrees of global warming or more. The EU’s leadership on this issue is therefore very welcome. But for it to be credible Europe’s promises have to be translated into real action at home. 
If the EU wants to successfully push for a five year review cycle in Paris, it cannot accept a ten year period for its own Emissions Trading System without such a review. Europe has to ensure its own target is open for review and strengthened every five years. Equally important is strong climate action before 2020. Years ahead, the EU has already met its own 2020 climate target of reducing emissions by 20%. Instead of raising its target to build momentum ensuring cost-effective and fair climate action, the EU plans to lean back. By 2020, the surplus will likely have grown to three or even four billion pollution permits. Current rules and the Commission's ETS reform proposal allow the whole surplus to simply be carried over and be used to meet the EU’s 2030 target. Industry can accumulate surplus emissions permits and then use them to meet their 2030 target. It is now in the hands of European policymakers to change this.
One of the crucial sticking points in Paris will be that rich nations have to prove to poorer ones that they are serious about climate action, not in the future but now. The EU could make a substantial contribution to closing the very large global emissions gap that exists between planned reductions and reductions needed to prevent dangerous warming. This would not require the EU to make an additional effort, as the reductions are already happening. It would simply mean cancelling the surplus ETS allowances to contribute to further pre-2020 action instead of carrying them over and weakening the EU’s post-2020 action. A new Paris climate deal would not start until 2021. Cancelling its ETS surplus would send a clear signal to the world that the EU is serious about its pre-2020 ambition. CAN Europe is calling on European leaders to put their words into action. To be a climate leader, the EU must radically and quickly raise its ambition by permanently cancelling surplus pollution permits and by increasing its target every five years. Failure to effectively reform the ETS will compromise the EU’s ability to be a global leader on climate issues and diminish its influence in international climate negotiations.

8. UK cancels pioneering carbon capture and storage competition
The UK government has cancelled its £1 billion (about €1.4 billion) competition for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology just six months before it was due to be awarded, breaking a key pledge in the Conservative party manifesto.  The abandonment of a technology seen as vital in tackling global warming will be an embarrassment to the UK just days before a major UN climate change summit in Paris. Industry figures called the move “devastating”. Two projects had been in the running. One was backed by Shell and SSE at Peterhead. The other called White Rose was based at Drax, the UK’s largest power plant, and was in trouble after Drax said halted investment in September. The government informed the London Stock Exchange at 3pm, stating: “Following the Chancellor’s autumn statement, HM government confirms that the £1bn ring-fenced capital budget for the Carbon Capture and Storage Competition is no longer available. "This decision means that the CCS Competition cannot proceed on its current basis. We will engage closely with the bidders on the implications of this decision for them.” The decision was not mentioned in Treasury documents. “This is devastating,” said Luke Warren, chief executive of the CCS Association. “Moving the goalposts just at the time when a four-year competition is about to conclude is an appalling way to do business. It is a real blow to confidence for companies investing in CCS.”
Warren said ministers must urgently come up with new plans: “This technology is critical for the UK’s economic, industrial and climate policies. Without concrete government support for CCS the UK will lose the opportunity for cost-effective decarbonisation”. Shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy called the move a betrayal to communities: “Year after year the prime minister has personally promised to support CCS so this is a huge betrayal for all of the communities who could have benefited so much from this cutting-edge technology.” CCS traps the carbon dioxide from coal and gas power plants and buries it underground so it cannot contribute to global warming. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded CCS is hugely important to tackling climate change in the most cost-effective way. Without CCS, the costs of halting global warming would double, the IPCC said. The UK government’s own advisors, the Committee on Climate Change, said in October: “CCS is very important for reducing emissions across the economy and could almost halve the cost of meeting the 2050 target in the [UK’s] Climate Change Act.”

9. Renewables policy to target heating after 2020
The European Commission is considering introducing requirements on renewable energy use in heating and cooling in existing buildings as part of a new renewable energy law. Current rules on “nearly-zero energy” standards could be made more ambitious by extending minimum renewable energy obligations to the existing building stock when a building is renovated or its heating system is replaced, according to the Commission. These are currently only mandatory for new buildings from 2021. The new Renewable Energy Directive for the period 2020-2030 could include a “comprehensive approach” to promoting renewable heating and cooling by targeting buildings, individual heating equipment and the share of renewable energy in district heating and combined heat and power units, the Commission suggested. It launched a consultation requesting views on how the new law can “ensure a timely and cost-effective achievement” of the EU’s 2030 renewable energy target of at least 27%, which is only binding at EU-level.
The Commission is considering requiring “all new and significantly upgraded” heating and cooling infrastructure to enable the sourcing of a share of heating, cooling and hot water needs from renewables produced on site or nearby using local networks. Energy suppliers could also be required to progressively increase the share of renewables in the energy they sell for heating and cooling purposes, it suggested. The consultation asks whether harmonised EU-level renewables support schemes or regional schemes supported by several Member States would drive the achievement of the target more cost-effectively than national schemes. Respondents are also asked what complementary EU measures are needed. The options outlined include incentives such as EU-level or regional auctioning of renewable energy capacities, or EU requirements for market players to include a certain share of renewables in production, supply and consumption. The Commission requests views on the need for EU rules on the right of consumers to generate and store their own renewable electricity. Respondents are also asked if more harmonised EU rules, such as creating a ‘one-stop shop’ at national level to ease permit applications or setting maximum time limits for permitting procedures, are required to remove administrative barriers to renewable energy deployment.  Please note that the consultation closes on 10 February 2016. The Commission plans to table a proposal for the new directive next year, together with an updated bioenergy sustainability policy.

10. Brussels reviews environmental data reporting
The European Commission is considering changing the requirements for how environmental data is reported in the EU to reduce the burden on national authorities. The Commission is considering repealing the 1991 Standardised Reporting Directive which sets EU-wide rules for monitoring and reporting on a range of metrics including air quality, noise and waste, a consultation launched this week indicated. Part of the changes will mean certain reporting requirements are scaled back, the Commission said. The overhaul is being considered under a ‘fitness check’ as part of its Better Regulation agenda. “The question in relation to the fitness check on monitoring and reporting is whether such a legally binding, horizontal approach [as the Standardised Reporting Directive] should be developed again in the future,” the Commission said. It is seeking views on whether to redesign a similar piece of legislation with binding rules or whether to agree reporting rules on a case-by-case basis with Member States. Please note that the consultation closes on 10 February 2016.

11. EU to US: Paris climate deal must be legally binding

The EU has warned the Obama Administration that a global climate deal at the Paris summit must be legally binding, after the US secretary of state John Kerry said that it “definitively” would not be a treaty. “The Paris agreement must be an international legally binding agreement,” a spokeswoman for the EU’s climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete , told the Guardian. “The title of the agreement is yet to be decided but it will not affect its legally binding form.” Earlier, the French foreign minister, Laurent Fabius , had said it was obvious that any agreement in Paris would contain lawful elements, and suggested that Kerry was “confused” about the point.

Kerry from his side, told the Financial Times on Wednesday that any agreement in Paris, where world leaders meet in three weeks’ time, is “definitively not going to be a treaty” and there were “not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto”, in a reference to the world’s only previous binding climate treaty. But the nature of the agreement’s elements is being fiercely contested in talks that officials publicly say have reached a very sensitive point. Privately, they say that countries are keeping their powder dry for the frantic last days of negotiations in which a pact is expected to be thrashed out.
The EU would like to see a five-yearly multilateral review process or “facilitative regime” that can enforce emissions commitments, with the threat of withholding climate aid being used as a stick against developing countries that renege on their promises. Whether the deal will be formalised as a treaty or protocol, however, remains up in the air. The Kyoto protocol was criticised by States such as the US, which withdrew from it under the George W Bush presidency, arguing that it exempted developing countries and would damage the US economy. While keen to clinch a deal in Paris, the Obama administration is worried that a Republican-dominated US Senate could demand a deciding say over any treaty with legally binding obligations.
Some influential countries seem willing to extend Obama the benefit of the doubt. “We don’t need a treaty in Paris,” the Moroccan environment minister Hakima el Haite told a UN climate conference in Rabat last month. “We need a universal agreement in which everyone agrees and commits – and is engaged to respect commitments and contributions. That is what we are working for.” Bob Ward, the policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment said that the Paris agreement was always intended as a complement to emissions pledges, rather than a body of statute. But it remains unclear what sanctions could be imposed against developed countries that flout their obligations, or how the review process would ramp up inadequate climate pledges. Countries putting forward their climate plans in recent days include Bosnia, which anticipates a 70% increase in emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, and oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

12. Maroš Sefčovič Press Conference on the State of the Energy Union
On 18 November, Maroš Sefčovič,  Vice President of the European Commission for the Energy Union, presented the first ever State of the Energy Union; “a brand new instrument that will allow the EU to assess, on an annual basis, how we are doing and where we should step up our efforts to implement the Energy Union. In its first edition, this State of the Energy Union keeps track of the progress the EU has made since February namely:

  • a breakthrough to better interconnect France and Spain, facilitated by President Juncker;

  • the adoption of operational programmes for the Structural Funds, with several links to the Energy Union;

  • new Horizon 2020 financing, equally with direct links to resource and energy efficiency;

  • An agreement on the fourth railway package, which paves the way for more efficient rail services in the EU.

  • the setting up a high level group for regional cooperation in Central-South Europe (the so-called CESEC[1] high level group)

  • The first projects adopted under the so-called Juncker Fund to reduce heating bills of private homes in France or to modernise the steel production process in Italy.

  • a nuclear deal with Iran, and the adoption of a Digital Single Market Strategy.

As for looking forward, the State of the Energy Union wants to give guidance to next year's work, on the basis of some clear messages. For instance the first message is that the EU must remain the leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy and society, also after COP21 in Paris. There is a road to Paris, he said, but there is also a road from Paris, where the EU should continue to lead the way. Not only for environmental reasons, but also because there is a business case for a low-carbon society, leading to jobs and growth.

In the State of the Energy Union, it is indicated what the EU will do to keep the leadership and move away from an economy driven by fossil fuels:

  1. make sure that the price signals are right: last July, the European Commission presented the EU ETS proposal to get the carbon price right; next year the EU will come with a proposal on the redesign of the electricity market to get the market price signals right;

  2. the EU will present a series of other legislative proposals needed to transition towards a low-carbon economy: before the Summer the EC will propose the Effort Sharing Decision in the non-ETS, looking also into the contribution of land use and the transport sector, and after the Summer it will present legislation to ensure that the 2030 targets on renewables and energy efficiency are met

  3. the EU will further develop its financing instruments, making them more suitable for financing needs at the local level and for the energy efficiency needs in the buildings sector, where 40% of EU total energy consumption is used. To address these needs, the Smart Financing for Smart Buildings will see the light in 2016.

The second main message is that “If we want this fundamental energy transition to be successful, it has to be socially fair and consumer-centred”. European citizens and consumers should take ownership of this transition, and become more active players in the market. As the report on consumer trends in the energy markets, published at the same time as the State of the Energy Union, shows: from a consumers’ perspective, energy markets are still not performing as they should. A lot of work needs to be done on switching rates or consumer-friendly energy bills. In 2016, priority should be given to:

  1. a proposal on redesigning the electricity market, meant to facilitate demand-response and reward active participation in the market.

  2. a report outlining the different components of energy price with the aim of bringing more transparency and trigger a serious debate on energy costs and prices.

  3. work with European social partners and encourage Member States to discuss the energy transition with national social partners; some innovative sectors will boom, whereas other more traditional sectors might run into difficulties. “That’s why we have to stimulate the right skills for the jobs of the future and link up with the Skills Agenda that is on the Commission Work Programme for the first half of 2016”.

  4. pay particular attention to the increasing number of the energy poor. When next year, EU legislation should be revised to make sure that the interests of energy poor consumers are duly taken into account.

The third message is that : “in 2016, geopolitical challenges will not go away, therefore we need to be on top of them”. The EU has to keep pushing for the diversification of energy sources, routes and suppliers, e.g. through an ambitious LNG Strategy which we will present in February. Discussions with 3rd countries, in particular those in our immediate neighbourhood, should continue, especially in Energy Community countries, not only on security aspects in a narrow sense but also on issues such as renewables and energy efficiency. Work has to be speeded up on infrastructure projects. “That’s why he is glad that today, we also adopted the 2nd PCI list. A list that is more focused (moving from 248 to 195 projects of common interest) and much better aligned to the core objectives of the Energy Union, such as:

  • delivering on the 10% electricity interconnection target.

  • providing additional sources of gas to Member States that are still exclusively or predominantly dependent on a single dominant supplier.

  • better connecting the EU energy market to the Caspian region, Central Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean”.

His fourth and final message was that with this State of the Energy Union, we are putting in place the first building blocks of a robust ‘governance mechanism’. The cornerstone of this governance mechanism is National Energy and Climate Plans, prepared by the Member States. These plans serve four objectives:

  • ensuring that Member States establish long-term strategies – currently only 1/3 of the Member States has a long-term energy and climate strategy.

  • ensuring that Member States embed their strategies in a regional approach and engage in regional consultations (e.g. what are the areas where joint planning is more cost-effective? how can we avoid adverse effects on our neighbouring countries?).

  • these national plans are also a means to streamline the current reporting obligations, reducing unnecessary administrative burdens without touching essential reporting obligations.

  • Member States will be asked not only to prepare a National Plan but also biannual progress reports, thus creating more transparency and more predictability, also for investors.

In a competitive global environment, the EU should remain a first mover. Therefore, he would strongly encourage Member States to present their draft plans already in 2017. This is a message he will pass to the Energy Ministers as soon as possible. “The economic rationale for this is compelling: if we want investments, growth and jobs, we have to indicate as soon as possible the direction in which we are going” he said. In this State of the Energy Union package, first guidance is provided to Member States on what should be in their national plans, and key indicators are set to better measure progress.

“In other words, this year, the EU is laying the foundation for a robust mechanism, while next year it will come with a proposal that anchors this mechanism into legislation. That way, we'll ensure that the European Parliament too will play its part in making the Energy Union happen. So these are the messages for 2016: Europe will remain a leader in the transition towards a low-carbon society; that transition has to be socially fair and consumer-centered; we should be on top of geopolitical challenges, also in 2016 and we are establishing a robust mechanism that should bring transparency and predictability to investors” Sefčovič concluded. For the full speech please click here.

13. Brussels, Big Energy, & revolving doors: a hothouse for climate change
Conflicts of interest in the field of energy and climate policy are being ignored by EU institutions allowing some of the world’s biggest polluters to potentially benefit from the know-how and contact books of top Brussels insiders, according to a new report published by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). “Brussels, big energy, and revolving doors: a hothouse for climate change” by Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) examines cases of EU public servants and elected representatives who have gone through the revolving door to corporate jobs with links to the fossil fuels industry or those who represent them. The report also explores cases where officials and special advisers have joined the Commission from roles in major energy outfits. Five new cases are highlighted which show how blasé the institutions are about the risk of corporate capture of EU energy policy by Big Energy. In total the report highlights 16 problematic revolving door moves by former MEPs, a former Commissioner, special advisers and officials with close ties to EU climate and energy policy. Major industry players such as the world's biggest oil and gas company Saudi Aramco, Europe's oldest energy firm Edison, and lobby consultancy FleishmanHillard are linked to these latest revolving door cases.
“The close ties between Big Energy and senior decision-makers, facilitated by the revolving door, are extremely worrying,” says CEO campaigner Vicky Cann. “The fact that so many of these revolving door moves have been officially authorised shows the institutions' total lack of understanding of conflicts of interest and the risks generated by the revolving door. As the planet faces a looming catastrophic climate crisis, we need strict rules and a major change of culture to tackle the hothouse of energy industry lobbying, privileged access for polluters, and ever-spinning revolving doors that are so prevalent in key EU institutions.”
Among the report’s recommendations are calls for an overhaul of revolving door rules at the EU and member state levels, new safeguards to prevent conflicts of interest involving Commission special advisers, a two year cooling-off period on taking paid lobby work for former MEPs, and a vastly improved lobby transparency regime in Brussels.
5 key climate & energy revolving door cases:

  • The Commission official: Marcus Lippold used to work at ExxonMobil, a company well-known for funding climate denial and blocking climate change policies; then he went to work for DG Energy where he was responsible for cooperation with OPEC. Now he is on sabbatical from the Commission and working for Saudi Aramco, the world's biggest oil and gas company which is owned by Saudi Arabia, a country which has been blocking action on climate change for years.

  • The MEP: Chris Davies MEP championed carbon capture and storage (CCS) while spending 15 years on the European Parliament's environment committee, working closely with Big Energy interests to do so. Now he has set up his own environmental lobby consultancy and is working with FleishmanHillard, one of Brussels' biggest lobby firms.

  • The commissioner: Joaquín Almunia the former Barroso II competition commissioner, has been a paid member of the 'scientific committee' to produce the study entitled 'Building the Energy Union to Fuel European Growth'. The report was written by a for-profit consultancy and commissioned by (and likely funded by) Enel.

  • The Commission special adviser: Nathalie Tocci is the special adviser to High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini but is simultaneously on the board of “Europe's oldest energy company” Edison, owned by French energy giant EDF.

  • The member state official: Matthew Hinde was Head of EU Strategy at the UK government's Department of Energy and Climate Change for the past two years but has now joined the Brussels office of lobby firm FleishmanHillard, one of the leading PR specialists in energy, whose clients include Total, Shell, Statoil, ENI, SHV Energy, Exxon Mobil, BP among others, to act as its Head of Energy Practice.

The report can be read here and the Annex for 11 additional climate and energy-related revolving doors cases here.

14. Events


December 15

  • The Institute for European Studies Vrije Universiteit Brussel organises an event on The EU and climate change.

  • The Centre for European Reform (CER) and Kreab organise a breakfast on Climate change before/after COP21.

  • Hanns Seidel Foundation organises an expert roundtable on COP21: Southeast Asia, China and Europe for climate action.

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