Brussels, February 28 – The European Parliament's Energy Committee (ITRE) voted today in favour of binding legislation to deliver Europe's target of 20% energy savings by 2020.
MEPs from all major parties reached an agreement to strengthen plans to reduce Europe's energy use  by supporting a binding 20% target and recommending tougher measures to save energy.
Final negotiations with national governments, which are less supportive of binding efficiency legislation, are expected to begin shortly.
The socio-economic benefits of energy savings have been highlighted in the run-up to decisions on the EU Energy Efficiency Directive with a national multi-media competition organised by Friends of the Earth Hungary.
People across Hungary were invited to submit creative ideas in a variety of media formats to illustrate the exciting, sexy and fun side to energy efficiency. Videos, posters, cartoons and music were created by nearly 80 applications and the winners were announced today.
As Denmark prepares to take over the presidency of the European Union in January for the first half of 2012, Friends of the Earth Europe has written a letter to the Danish Presidency calling on it to contribute to a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable future, for the people of Europe and other continents.
"The current global economic, financial, environmental and social crises present us with a challenge of historic proportions. Only an urgent, wide ranging and far reaching response can deal with this situation," the letter states.
Editor's note: The latest fashion in the debate on the energy efficiency directive is to call for energy intensity targets (i.e. the number of units of energy used to create a unit of GDP) instead of the established 20% reduction in energy consumption.
It is important to be aware of the vested interests behind this move – and we hope that these 'leaked extracts' from an unnamed MEP's private diary will shed some light on the matter!
Monday 21 November
Targeted public financial support for energy savings, mainly thermal insulation of buildings, creates jobs and increases economic activity across the Czech Republic, according to this latest study from Friends of the Earth Czech Republic and CEE Bankwatch. Over 60 percent of the Czech Republic's current energy consumption could be saved through energy efficiency measures in the building sector - tackling both oil and gas dependency and environmental pollution.
"We shouldn't invest in energy efficiency because it's bad for economic growth", claims Markus Pieper, MEP. All right, he was speaking in German and maybe the EU Parliament's interpreters were having a tough day. But they can't have got it completely wrong. He did say saving energy is a bad thing.
How could anyone not wish to cut their energy bill? If like us you're struggling on a measly NGO salary you would jump at the chance of lower bills. So would everybody with a grain of common sense. It means more money for – for what actually? We asked around. If your energy bill was cut by €100 a month, what would you do with the money? Some said they would save it (that was the NGOs); others wanted to spend it in a fancy restaurant. Others (the expats) would hop on a high speed train and go see their folks. Another – our favourite – plumped for buying a dog.
It's a summer whodunit. The European Commission's Energy Efficiency Directive has been public since June 22. But why was the headline policy – an obligation on power companies to cut customers' energy use – so abruptly dropped from the final text?
A plan to reduce Europe's energy use unveiled in Brussels today will not make savings to the extent promised, or on the scale needed to fight climate change. That is the verdict of Friends of the Earth Europe – and the plan's own authors – on the Energy Efficiency Directive published by the European Commission.
Two important climate and energy papers were released today by the European Commission in Brussels amid criticism from Friends of the Earth Europe.
The environmental group argues that the proposals for how Europe might tackle climate change over the next 40 years show the EU is effectively abandoning its pledge to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius.