EU Commission agrees 30 percent energy savings goal for 2030: sources

BRUSSELS Wed Jul 23, 2014 8:34am EDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission agreed on Wednesday to put forward a target to improve energy efficiency by 30 percent as part of a package of climate and energy policy for 2030, EU sources said.

Member states will decide whether the target should be binding on individual nations or at an EU-wide level, said two sources, requesting anonymity as they are not authorized to speak to the media.

Energy efficiency has gained popularity in the context of the Ukraine crisis as EU countries seek to do all they can to reduce the need for imported Russian energy.

But it has also been divisive because of the upfront costs required to make buildings more efficient, such as better insulation.

Following on from Wednesday's decision by the European commissioners, member states have set themselves an October deadline to agree on 2030 climate and energy policy.

Britain and many business interests have pushed hard for a single goal on cutting greenhouse gases, complemented by a strengthened EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).

The ETS is meant to be the European Union's flagship policy for tackling climate change but prices of only around 6 euros ($8) per ton are too weak to drive investment in lower-carbon technology.

Reducing energy use can have the effect of adding to the existing surplus of carbon allowances and lowering their price still further.

Other member states, such as Germany, have pushed for a binding energy efficiency goal and a renewable energy target as well as a goal on greenhouse gases.

That follows the model of 2020 policy, which is based on a collection of policy goals, which the European Union is mostly expected to meet.

A draft document seen by Reuters on energy savings said the bloc was almost on track to meet a 2020 goal to achieve energy savings of 20 percent versus projected business as usual.

(Editing by Dale Hudson)