Energy conservation is the key factor to achieving EU climate change objectives


Colette Lewiner,
Head of Energy &

London, U.K. — (METERING.COM) — August 31, 2007 – Analysis by consultants Capgemini of the European Union’s efforts to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions, and increase the use of renewable energy by 2020 reveals that energy conservation is the key factor in achieving these objectives.

According to Colette Lewiner, head of Energy and Utilites at Capgemini, earlier this year the European Union Ministers asked the Member States to commit to energy consumption and green house effect gases (mainly CO2) emissions reductions of 20%, as well as a portion of 20% of renewable energies in their energy production. The horizon of this ‘three times 20% objective’ is 2020.  
While these objectives were articulated in response to climate change issues, and ultimately designed to avoid an increase of the planet’s temperature beyond 2 to 3 degrees, the underlying assumption is an improved security of energy (and electricity) supplies, as well as a growing European economy with sustained tertiary and industrial employment.

2020 is a relatively short time horizon compared to the lead time for construction of large plants such as nuclear plants. It is also a short time frame for the industrialization at reasonable costs of carbon sequestration, for renovation of the buildings and houses park and for the switch of the car fleet to electrical cars. More than 80% of the refrigerators bought in 2007 will still be in operation in 2020; less than 1/3 of the industrial and utility infrastructure in place today will be renewed by 2020; and more than 20% of the cars bought in 2007 will still be on the road in 2020.

In order for Europe to achieve these targets, Capgemini analysis concludes that:

  • The EU recommendations are aiming at building the right road map to avoid disastrous consequences of climate change, but the detailed objectives seem very ambitious and may not be met.
  • Energy conservation is the key factor, as it will automatically drive CO2 reductions and implementation of decentralized renewable energies.
  • A strong political will is needed to reach these goals. Practical plans should be articulated around information campaigns to increase awareness of these challenges, coupled with the right incentives; new regulations to boost existing energy saving and CO2 saving equipment or industrial processes; and additional research and development funding, especially on photovoltaic solar energy and CO2 sequestration.
  • All carbon free generation sources, including nuclear, should be considered at equal foot.
  • The cost of this policy should be evaluated, as it should not jeopardize Europe’s competitiveness compared to other regions.
  • Finally, these types of measures should also be applied in other regions of the world.

A recent EIA report shows that by 2030, worldwide energy consumption should increase by 57% and CO2 emissions by 59%! Discussions are underway to convince other countries – notably the United Sates, Canada and China – to take strong CO2 reduction measures and tangible progresses were achieved during the recent G8 meeting. However, if these intentions do not translate into facts, the European efforts alone represent a drop of water in the ocean while jeopardizing Europe’s development.