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We know that energy consumption in the European Union (eu) is rising everyday. Also, eu wastes at least 20 per cent of the energy it uses. The total energy production in Europe in 2004 was 2.4 quadrillion Btu (British thermal unit) higher than in 1994. This was brought out by the World Energy Overview 1994-2004, a report by Energy Information Administration, a us -based energy statistics organisation,
A recent development shows that eu may not be able to address the problem of rising consumption. Finland, which at present holds the European Union presidency, wanted the European Commission to approve an efficiency action plan, which listed how states can reduce energy consumption by 20 per cent by 2020. The cuts targeted savings of around us $76 billion on the eu's energy bill. The plan, which was to be approved in November 2006, was rejected by Jos Manuel Barroso, the commission's president. He said that "the plan is too woolly". "There is a need for quality not quantity," his spokesperson said.
According to experts, energy efficiency measures would prove more beneficial than consumption cut to solve Europe's problem. Use of energy for heating is a major energy guzzler in Europe. Experts say that masses would not cut their consumption for this. But energy efficiency measures can help bring warmer homes for people living in fuel poverty.They also prefer energy efficiency because wasting less energy saves money and it helps make industry more competitive. "People should understand that each time they waste energy they are destroying the potential to buy goods or save money, besides making the climate warmer," says eu Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs. "The target to reduce energy bill is welcome, but education and voluntary measures are not going to cut it alone. Industry has to be given incentives," says Mahi Sideridou, Greenpeace's eu climate and energy director.
Energy efficiency is crucial for Europe. If it takes action now, the direct cost of energy consumption could be reduced by more than us $129 billion annually by 2020 and around 780 millions tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions can also be avoided.
Even the European Commission's Green Paper on Energy Efficiency seeks to put energy savings higher on the agenda. The Green Paper lists a number of options to save 20 per cent of energy consumption by 2020 in a cost effective way through changes in consumer behaviour and energy efficient technologies. "This energy efficiency initiative will help Europe achieve two fundamental goals: creating more growth and better jobs. It will also help Europe meet its Kyoto commitments," says Piebalgs.
It is yet to be seen whether Europe adheres to the recommendations in the Green Paper. It seems unlikely: Germany, which takes over the six-month presidency in January 2007, is also preparing an energy package that is likely to focus on supply security and price rather than savings.