EU nations consider lowering energy savings targets: draft

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU nations are considering lowering targets on energy savings after 2021, a draft document seen by Reuters shows, in what climate campaigners say would be blow to the European Union’s goals to curb the worst effects of global warming.

The text drafted by the Maltese presidency of the European Council proposes new annual energy savings targets of 1.4 percent through 2030, down from 1.5 percent proposed by the European Commission, the EU executive.

A reference to keeping the 1.5 percent target for 10 years beyond 2030 was also scrapped from the compromise text, which will be discussed by European diplomats later this week.

The change was requested by a number of EU nations afraid they would not meet the more ambitious targets, a spokesman for the Maltese presidency told Reuters, adding the target is still open for discussion.

The European Union aims to achieve these targets by measures such as improving insulation and the energy consumption of buildings, more efficient consumer goods and introducing advanced electricity meters.

Climate campaigners said the changes would hurt the EU’s commitments under the Paris Agreement, which seeks to phase out net greenhouse gas emissions by the second half of the century and limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“It is baffling that EU governments could even consider undermining their energy savings obligations, while the Paris Agreement requires them to do the exact opposite,” Dora Petroula, of the Climate Action Network, said.

The International Energy Agency estimated in 2015 that energy savings such as the deployment of more efficient technology and building insulation could make up some 70 percent of the EU’s goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

In November, the European Commission has proposed an overall target of 30 percent of energy savings until 2030.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Alison Williams