We cannot transition to a fossil-free Europe and switch to a 100% renewable energy system without first reducing our consumption of energy. Saving energy is also the most effective way to reduce emissions. The cheapest, cleanest and safest energy is the energy we don't actually need.
There are many additional benefits to cutting our energy consumption: reduced dependency on fossil fuels, lower energy bills, quality homes, reduced energy poverty and green local jobs.
3 in 4 buildings in the EU are inefficient. Buildings account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption, and 36% of our CO2 emissions. This means we are needlessly spending billions of euros on wasteful, polluting energy, when we could be investing in energy savings to cut bills and emissions instead. Increasing the rate of home renovations by 1% could lift 7 million people out of energy poverty.
Energy savings produce concrete changes for people, and bridge social and environmental justice. Especially when targeted at the most vulnerable citizens, energy savings action provides citizens with healthier homes and cities – improving physical and mental health, social inclusion and human dignity. It provides better transport systems, cleaner air, and it can help people regain control over the energy system, as well as create green local jobs and cut sometimes crippling energy bills.
Energy savings is also an issue of climate justice: cutting energy use would reduce Europe’s over-consumption of resources – as we are already using more than our fair share.
Building new pipelines, mining for more coal, and importing more gas and oil simply locks us further into fossil fuel dependence – when we should be investing in fossil free solutions.
The European Union has defined energy efficiency targets to address our energy waste problem. Unfortunately those policies are not enough: they are voluntary not mandatory, they aim too low, and they are marginalised in policy-making.
We are still far from tapping into the full potential of energy savings.
Friends of the Earth Europe believes that unless energy saving policies are binding, and their ambition increased to the scale of the challenge, they will not receive the priority they need.
Friends of the Earth groups around Europe are calling for binding and ambitious EU energy saving targets, and for EU member states and local governments to go much further in rolling out massive home renovation programmes, to bring Europe’s housing stock to the highest efficient standards and to climate proof our buildings.
With up to 1 in 4 EU citizens (125 million people) unable to adequately heat, cool or light their homes – disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable parts of the population – this will also help tackle energy poverty.