European Union to make energy efficiency targets voluntary |

European Union to make energy efficiency targets voluntary

BRUSSELS, Belgium – European Union lawmakers agreed Tuesday to scale back the bloc’s ambitions to reduce energy consumption by making energy efficiency targets voluntary instead of mandatory.In a compromise reached between EU governments and the European Parliament, nations are asked to save at least 9 percent more energy over a nine-year period by cutting back on the use of electricity, gas, heating and fuels to households, transport and other industrial consumers.The European Parliament originally wanted new rules to impose binding, longer-term energy saving targets on EU countries, but EU governments disagreed, arguing that it would make the system too bureaucratic and difficult to administer.Claude Turmes, a lawmaker from the Parliament’s Green bloc, told Dow Jones Newswires the targets were “ridiculously weak.”EU governments must submit national energy efficiency plans to the European Commission by June 2007 with their three-year intermediate targets.Reaching an agreement on the so-called energy efficiency and energy services directive has grown in importance as oil prices have skyrocketed and as Europe struggles to meet targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power plants.The Parliament is expected to pass the legislation at a vote in the plenary session on Dec. 13 in Strasbourg, France. EU governments already have approved the bill. The regulations will go into effect in two years.

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