08 Dec 2023, 13:30
Benjamin Wehrmann

Industry group and NGO say Germany helped water down EU green buildings agreement

Clean Energy Wire

The agreement on new EU rules for the energy performance of buildings has been criticised by industry representatives and environmental groups for lacking ambition and risking missing emissions reduction targets in the sector. Industry energy efficiency alliance Deneff said that, while the agreement represents a step in the right direction by introducing efficiency targets for residential buildings and minimum standards for non-residential buildings, the deal is far off track from reaching climate targets and would therefore have to be followed by a revised and more ambitious agreement.
According to the deal, member states must take measures to gradually reduce the average primary energy consumption of their entire residential building stock - by 16 percent by 2030 and by 20 to 22 percent by 2035. However, it does not require mandatory retrofitting for the worst-performing groups of buildings and minimum standards across the EU, as was initially planned.

Deneff head Christian Noll said the German government had acted as an opponent to stricter rules in buildings emissions. “We had hoped for more determined action,” Noll said, reminding that chancellor Olaf Scholz, just days before the deal was announced, had called for greater global energy efficiency efforts at the UN climate conference COP28 in Dubai. “The chancellor’s words must now be followed by actions.” The fact that the EU deal now puts responsibility for designing building efficiency rules into the hands of member states could bring much-needed impetus for the construction sector, which is currently seeing many projects cancelled and a drop in new orders, Noll added. Energy-efficient modernisation, therefore, provided a much-needed opportunity for many companies, he argued. “We can no longer afford doing nothing with respect to modernising buildings, both with a view to climate change and to the economy,” he warned.
The head of environmental NGO Nabu, Jörg-Andreas Krüger, said Germany had actively worked on watering down an ambitious agreement. More than one third of Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions currently comes from the buildings sector, and “The new agreement will do little to change that,” Krüger said. EU states were largely given the green light for “continuing what they did so far,” instead of enforcing a focus on the least efficient group of buildings and directing efforts to low-income households, who suffer disproportionately from high energy costs as they usually live in poorly insulated homes. The national efforts would have to significantly exceed the ambition level agreed at the EU level, the Nabu head said.

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