* EU leaders will have to debate details of enforcement
* Energy savings goal part of 2030 targets
* Member states to debate climate, energy package in October
* Environment campaigners say 30 percent not enough
(Updates with comment, context, detail)
By Barbara Lewis
BRUSSELS, July 23 The European Commission on
Wednesday put forward a target to improve energy savings by 30
percent as part of efforts to curb EU reliance on Russian gas
Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said the Commission
agreed unanimously on 30 percent, more ambitious than a level of
25 percent which had been considered as part of a range of
"Given the need for energy security in gas because of the
situation in Russia and Ukraine, what we think is a more
ambitious energy efficient savings target is appropriate," he
told a news conference.
Environmental campaigners and Green politicians, however,
said 30 percent was not enough and cited Commission research
that has shown gas imports would fall by 40 percent with a 40
percent target, but only 22 percent with a 30 percent target.
They also cite benefits to gross domestic product as a
higher target would create more jobs in the building and
insulation sectors, for instance.
Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, who had called for a
target of at least 30 percent, said Wednesday's decision was
good news for reducing carbon emissions and "not such good news
for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin".
Energy savings are divisive because of the cost of the
investment needed to make buildings, for instance, less
Member states will have to discuss the proposed goal and
have set themselves a deadline of October to agree on a set of
climate and energy policy for 2030.
They must decide on whether the target should be binding on
individual nations or at an EU-wide level and precisely how the
30 percent reduction in energy use compared with projected
business as usual should be calculated.
TOO MANY GOALS?
The 2030 goals are to follow on from 2020 climate and energy
policy, which includes targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions
by 20 percent compared with 1990, increase the share of
renewable energy to 20 percent of use and increase energy
efficiency by 20 percent.
The Commission says the European Union is on course to meet
those targets, but not all nations agree that multiple goals are
the best approach.
Germany has called for a 2030 binding energy savings goal
and a renewable target as well as an emissions reduction goal.
But some business interests and Britain have pushed for a
single emissions-cutting target, complemented by a strengthened
EU Emissions Trading System (ETS).
The ETS is meant to be the EU's flagship policy for tackling
climate change but prices of only around 6 euros per tonne are
too weak to drive investment in low-carbon technology.
Reducing energy use can have the effect of adding to the
surplus of carbon allowances that has weakened the market and
lowering their value further.
Marcus Ferdinand, an analyst at Thomson Reuters Point
Carbon, said a separate Commission proposal to launch a Market
Stability Reserve to regulate the supply of ETS allowances could
outweigh the "slightly bearish impact of the proposed energy
Business Europe, Europe's business lobbying group, issued a
statement saying it remained "unconvinced by the proposed
multi-target approach" and that the ETS should be "the only
driver of energy efficiency investment in industry".
The insulation industry and other business interests,
however, welcomed the tentative energy savings goal.
"Improved energy efficiency will play a fundamental role in
helping Europe achieve its climate, energy security and
competitiveness goals," said Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive
of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which
groups pension funds and asset managers that control 7.5
trillion euros ($10.10 trillion)
($1 = 0.7427 Euros)
(Additional reporting by Ben Garside in London; Editing by Dale
Hudson and William Hardy)