EU regulators poised to seek deeper cut in energy use: draft

LONDON (Reuters) - EU regulators are poised to propose a binding target to cut energy use by 30 percent by 2030, a more ambitious goal than previously discussed, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

The draft law, which the European Commission is expected to publish next month, is part of a set of proposals to implement 2030 goals on cutting emissions, increasing renewable energy use and preventing energy waste.

A preliminary agreement was reached in October 2014 when the 28 member states agreed to increase energy savings by at least 27 percent compared with business as usual.

Since then, political momentum for a deeper cut has grown as using less energy curbs dependency on imports from nations such as Russia, while creating jobs in construction and insulation.

Following Britain’s vote in June to leave the European Union, the EU executive has also been keen to promote the social benefits of its policies.

Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete has said every 1 percent improvement in energy efficiency could lift 7 million people out of energy poverty because their homes would be better insulated with lower energy bills.

A draft seen by Reuters refers to a 2030 30 percent binding headline target on energy efficiency. The document has yet to be agreed formally by the EU Commissioners.

The 30 percent compares with an existing target of 20 percent for 2020, which initially was not binding and the bloc was far from achieving until a law in 2012 forced progress.

The European Commission said it could not comment on an unpublished document.

EU sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was broad support in the Commission for the 30 percent binding target, which had the related benefit of cutting emissions because less energy would be burnt.

They said the Commission was keen to use the target as a step towards implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change, especially as the United States and China have beaten the European Union to ratifying the deal.

A proposal to share out a 2030 target to cut greenhouse gases by at least 40 percent was published in July. It has to be debated by member states and the European Parliament before it can become law.

Non-governmental organizations have pushed for an efficiency goal of 40 percent, which is supported by the building insulation industry and efficiency campaigners.

“Going for the higher numbers would significantly increase the benefits. So it’s a case of job half done,” said Brook Riley, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe.

EU sources said the Commission proposal struck a balance given concerns about the extra upfront costs, including deeper renovation, of a much higher goal.

Editing by Hugh Lawson