EU Commission new climate and energy proposals fall short of delivering structural change

The new EU proposals to reform the gas market and renovate the EU building stock have just been unveiled


Publication date

December 16, 2021

The European Commission yesterday published the second batch of its Fit for 55 package aimed at cutting carbon emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. Two of the most eagerly awaited legislative pieces that came out as part of this package include the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and the Hydrogen and Decarbonised Gas Market Package.

In the Energy Performance Building Directive proposal, some major new or improved instruments have been put forward:

  • New public buildings must be net zero emissions buildings by 2027 and other new buildings by 2030;
  • Implementation of minimum energy performance standards for existing buildings;
  • Clear support for the development of one stop shops and technical assistance programmes;
  • National Building Renovation Plans (former long-term renovation strategies) will be integrated into National Energy and Climate Plans. Among the mandatory elements to be provided, we welcome the focus on the neighbourhood approach, including the role of renewable   energy   communities   and   citizen   energy   communities. Local authorities shall be consulted in the drafting of these plans.

The role of local authorities in the overall implementation of these new measures remains however largely overlooked and no specific provision has been included to guarantee support for their actions. 

As regards the  gas package, unfortunately the scope of the proposals is essentially to create a new market for molecules with little concern of whether these molecules are needed or not in the first place.  The hydrogen hype has certainly not subsided despite the knowledge that it’s clearly not adapted to every sector especially home heating and overshadows the need for massive investment in renewable energy, including in the building sector.

Policy makers should have in mind that there will not be a single energy transition but several, adapted to each context and local resources. Energy Cities looks forward to discussing with co-legislators now in charge of amending the whole Fit for 55 package to finally pave the way for locally-relevant decarbonisation pathways.