The Energy Efficiency Directive introduced by the EU in 2012 is a complex policy that has become the subject of much debate and disagreement. The main aim of the policy is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in member states in line with international targets. By its very nature, though, it was never going to be that simple. Different member states have different population bases and industries, which means that everyone has to argue their own corner. So, what does this policy mean for the UK?
The Purpose of the Directive
This directive aims to cut the energy consumption of the European Union to 80% of current levels by 2020. This is no small feat when at the same time it is necessary to expand and thrive on a national and international level. The implementation of this directive obviously has many political implications. Like all countries, the UK has dwindling fossil fuel stocks and needs to look to alternatives. Some of these alternatives will be expensive to institute, some will not be usable for decades, and some will not necessarily generate enough power to keep the lights on. Those are the practicalities, but the truth of the matter is that in order to limit the production of environmentally harmful carbon dioxide production it is necessary to start moving on this sooner rather than later.
The Impact of the Directive
Frankly, the consequences are far reaching and not short term. The British government has been accused by Finland, Germany and Austria of using underhanded tactics to try to meet the carbon dioxide targets. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has maintained the commitment to combating climate change and has even stated that it is a driver of an economic recovery. ‘Green growth’ is a buzzword, but instituting energy efficiency measures can create more jobs, boost income, and feed into the economy. The major opponents to this scheme are naturally the energy firms. The directive requires them to reduce their individual output of emissions by 1.5%, which involves infrastructure changes and cost.
The Future of the Directive
The simple truth is that the times are changing, and UK businesses and consumers need to change as well. The shale oil research currently underway may contribute to that change. The Directive will, in the long term, reduce costs to both consumers and energy suppliers. This is a convoluted policy only because of the many parties involved, not because there is a good argument against trying to reduce emissions. The critical strategic practices all member states need to adopt is commitment to the aims of the directive as well as making efforts to hold the industry to account. The implications are far-reaching, from the effects on energy companies to the necessity to revamp building stock in the European Union so as to limit deleterious atmospheric effects. The only key to this is realistic and sustainable targets, and a group consensus. It will save the consumer, business, and government’s money in the long run.