Environmental policiesPolicy and Affairs

2040 EU targets ignore one priority: decarbonising heating and cooling

Emissions reduction potential of buildings and industry is 42% and 25.6% of EU final energy consumption

– Among the EPP leaders for 5 years lived in all Green Deal, the pre-election political maneuvers of the main European parties, the protests of tractors and the mumbling of some states – France in the lead – who called for a “break” in climate policies, the EU Commission has presented very timid and “empty” post-2030 climate targets. So empty that the EU executive has “forgotten” a theme that should instead be at the top of the list of priorities: decarbonising heating and cooling of buildings.

An “oversight in plain sight” that absolutely must be remedied, emphasizes a coalition of 18 industry associations and NGOs, including the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE), European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (ESTELA), Solar Heat Europe, CEE Bankwatch and European Environmental Bureau.

In a joint statement, the signatories call for a “solid” post-2030 framework to accelerate the electrification of heating systems and the share of clean energy to make them work. EU climate targets with a horizon of 2040 “rightly” identify the CO2 reduction potential of the construction and industry sectors, which account for 42% and 25% respectively,6% of the EU’s final energy consumption and remain heavily dependent on fossil fuel use, the statement stresses. “Unfortunately, it cannot cope with the much-needed Decarbonising of heating and cooling, representing 80% of the energy consumption of buildings and 60% of the total energy needs of industries”.

Yet the Commission communication could have been more specific and therefore more courageous. The potential of renewable and recovered sustainable heat sources alone is “significant“, “more than 2,000 TWh/year“, and exceeds the expected total heat demand by 2050. A potential that “remains largely unused”.

Priorities for decarbonising heating and cooling

In order to indicate the objectives for 2040, Brussels relied on a communication, that is, a document that has no binding force and serves only as an address for future directives and regulations. They will be prepared by the next Commission to take office after the June 2024 elections. At the new executive, the coalition points the way forward.

It identifies many priorities: targeted actions to finance energy efficiency, sustainable renewable energy projects and heat recovery in the residential, tertiary and industrial sectors, enhancing efficient heating and cooling solutions and renewable energy communities. An integrated approach is needed between renovation and Decarbonising of heating and cooling. Finally, the adoption of the necessary technology must be facilitated not only for vulnerable consumers but also for all citizens who have been seriously affected by inflation and the economic crisis.

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