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Europe agrees on energy efficiency target

Leaders across the EU have finally come to an agreement regarding the bloc's energy efficiency targets over the next decade and a half.

At a summit in Brussels on October 23rd, bosses committed to a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 40 per cent, while they also need to increase their levels of efficiency and use of renewables by at least 27 per cent.

The issue has been hotly debated since an initial aim of a 30 per cent rise in energy efficiency was proposed at the previous gathering earlier this year, with members split on whether the target would be too binding or didn't go far enough.

One of the main motivational drivers for finalising the figure is to move Europe away from a reliance on Russia as a source for fossil fuels. With the delicate political situation between the country and Ukraine continuing to rumble on, it has been suggested the best move for the EU is to take steps to become more 'energy secure'.

However, the targets are expected to include a level of flexibility, with leaders creating a special clause that will enable them to review the targets after a UN summit in December 2015.

It is hoped this meeting will result in a globally-binding target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with French president Francois Hollande stating his belief that the EU goals have already sent a message to China and the US - traditionally two of the world's worst polluters.

The fact that the EU energy efficiency target has been reduced by three per cent from the initial proposals comes as something of a blow to lobbyists, but this was seen as a compromise to achieve buy-in from all member nations.

Pressure from countries including the UK meant that the 30 per cent benchmark was not a viable option.

Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what impact the news has on national policies. The UK government has already revealed it will be reintroducing the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to help improve the efficiency of older homes across the country. It is quite feasible that more schemes of this nature will follow in the coming years as a result.

Posted by Paul Taylor