MEPs deliver on energy efficiency and governance, but drop ball on biomass

Posted on 17 January 2018

MEPs have shown high ambition is possible. Sadly, this ambition was not echoed at the renewables vote.
Brussels, Belgium - 17 January 2018

The European Parliament today added a dose of ambition to the European Commission’s energy efficiency proposal and supported a 2050 climate goal for the EU. However, it also voted for weak renewables targets and in favour of burning trees for energy.

“MEPs have shown that high ambition is both possible and crucial. Reducing energy use, and setting a goal of net zero emissions are key to our Paris Agreement commitments - and both became more likely today. The European Parliament must now hold firm to its positions in the upcoming negotiations with the EU Council,” said Imke Lübbeke, Head of Climate and Energy at WWF European Policy Office.

“Sadly, this ambition was not echoed at the renewables vote. The outcome there was a win for the fossil fuel and biomass industries, and a slap in the face for citizens, the climate and forests”, she added.

Energy efficiency
The European Parliament voted to go beyond the European Commission’s proposal on the Energy Efficiency Directive.  MEPs supported a minimum 35% binding EU energy efficiency target for 2030 - higher than the European Commission’s proposed 30%, but lower than the 40% supported by WWF. They also improved the proposed energy savings rule, by allowing the possibility of counting transport energy use.

“Thankfully, MEPs have beefed up the European Commission’s flimsy energy efficiency proposal - good news for consumers and the climate alike. Now, they must stand firm during the upcoming discussions with Member States, and continue to put energy efficiency first”, commented Arianna Vitali, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Renewables and bioenergy
MEPs voted for a 35% renewable energy target -  higher than the European Commission proposal of 27% - but with 10% ‘flexibility’, meaning the target could end up being 31.5%. Most damagingly, they ignored the warnings from 800 scientists, including IPCC lead authors and winners of the US medal of science and Nobel prize, and calls from NGOs and citizens, to stop subsidising the burning of tree trunks and stumps for energy.

“This shocking decision is likely to lead to more and more forests being burned in the name of fighting climate change. It flies in the face of science, and poses a serious threat to our climate goals. Investors should be aware that further investment in biomass plants is high risk, and their money is better spent on wind and solar,” commented Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.

Energy Union governance
MEPs have taken steps to bring the EU much more in line with the Paris Agreement. They voted for a 2050 goal of net zero carbon, and for Member State climate and energy plans to be based on the Paris goals.

“This sends investors and the rest of the world a message that the EU is taking the Paris Agreement seriously and wants to make the climate great again.” commented Alex Mason, Senior Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office.


Arianna Vitali
Senior Policy Officer (energy efficiency)
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: + 32 486 176 378

Alex Mason
Senior Policy Officer (renewables, bioenergy, governance)
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 494 762 763

Sarah Azau
Senior Communications Officer
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 473 573 137