Aberdeen council chief calls on Prime Minister to stick to his ‘green’ guns in EU energy-efficiency summit


Councillor Jenny Laing
Councillor Jenny Laing

The Labour leader of Aberdeen council – and three other local authority chiefs in England – have written to UK Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to endorse ‘ambitious’ EU energy-efficiency targets to boost jobs and improve competitiveness.

The letter from Councillor Jenny Laing was co-signed by her counterparts in Bristol, Leicester and Milton Keynes as part of the ‘Energy Cities’ lobbying ahead of this week’s EU Council of Ministers summit in Brussels.

Energy Cities is the European Association of local authorities in’ energy transition’. The European network aims to accelerate the energy transition at the local level.

The four civic leaders want Cameron to drop his opposition to a binding energy-efficiency target before the summit on 23-24 October, which is meeting to discuss the EU’s proposed 2030 climate and energy framework, which calls for a 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2030. Other measures in the package include a legally-binding 40% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and raising the share of renewables to 27% of the EU’s energy mix.

Making the target binding would encourage investors to back the UK’s green economy, and create jobs in the energy efficiency industry, the leaders of four major cities said. Climate campaigners have also said that only a binding target would bring real results and spur low carbon innovation.

Germany, Denmark and Portugal recently renewed their calls for a binding target for renewables, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reductions.

A draft version of the Council conclusions, dated 13 October, moots an EU target for a share of renewable energy consumed in the EU of at least 27% in 2030, compared to 1990. But, after UK pressure, that will likely be an EU-wide target, instead of individual goals set for each member state.  

Cllr Laing said:  “In February 2013 the prime minister delivered a speech on environmental issues, rightfully pointing out that the UK was in a ‘global race and the countries that succeed in that race will be those that are the greenest and most energy efficient’

 “We call on Mr Cameron to renew his commitment to an ambitious energy efficiency policy.

“The socio-economic benefits that such a policy would bring to UK’s households and businesses are numerous. In our cities, we have witnessed first-hand how energy efficiency measures have contributed to alleviate fuel poverty and create numerous jobs, notably in the insulation market.

“This momentum needs to be sustained. In addition to supporting the ongoing progress described above, an ambitious and binding 2030 energy efficiency target would have the twin benefits of:

“Sending the necessary signal to investors to make long-term contributions to the UK’s green economy and creating new employment opportunities in the energy efficiency industry, and would:

 “Boost competitiveness and low carbon innovation in UK cities. Adopting national energy efficiency objectives is vital to ensure that UK cities do not fall behind their continental counterparts, who are working across borders through networks such as Energy Cities to implement smart and ambitious energy efficiency policies.

“In light of this, and ahead of the European Council next 23-24 October, we urge your government to support an ambitious, binding, energy efficiency target for 2030, not primarily to save energy or comply with international targets, but first and foremost to save jobs, competitiveness and the well-being of our citizens, particularly in the precarious energy security context of Europe. “

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