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Statement by the ECO-Forum Energy & Climate Group 1997-98

"NGO Visions for a European Energy Conservation Strategy"

The Strategy should establish a practical framework for European cooperation and coordinated actions to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. It should ensure a substantial reduction in primary energy use as well as in environmental impacts of energy production and use. To do that, a clear goal is necessary, and we propose a 20% reduction from today's level of primary energy use in Europe by 2010.
In addition, the strategy should include an international frame-work for implementation. An inter-national body should be created to develop common guidelines for dif-ferent energy-efficiency measures as well as to facilitate cooperation and exchange of informa-tion. It must be open to NGO participation.
The strategy should apply to all of Europe, not only to Central and Eastern Europe. The strategy should promote sustai-nable consumption and production patterns in accordance with Agenda 21. Energy use and related emissions must be within the limits of the environmental space for Europe.
Policies made according to the strategy and its guidelines should be approved by inter-national bodies (e.g. EU,  Energy Charter, and Multilateral Development Banks).

The Strategy should include guidelines for:

Use of general financial instruments:

  • Phase-out of all non-environment-oriented subsidies on energy;
  • Inclusion of external costs in energy prices, e.g., with energy / CO2 taxes on fossil fuels and charges on nuclear energy to pay for its full costs of liability, decommissioning, and waste storage. Renewable energy must be exempted from the energy/CO2 tax. A special tax should be levied on aircraft fuel. At least part of the revenue should be used for stimulation of energy efficiency and renew-able energy. Further uses could include reduction of costs for labour;
  • Possible solutions to social problems of high energy prices/-taxes, including special support for introduction of energy efficiency and renewable-energy options for the socially disadvantaged.
Stimulation of energy efficiency and renewable energy:
  • Awareness-raising, education, and training in energy conservation, possibly combining the activities of state institutions, private sector, and NGOs;
  • Subsidy schemes for energy efficiency and renewable energy;
  • Energy audits for commercial, residential, and especially publicly owned build-ings;
  • Priorities for international and local investments in sustainable energy;
  • Facilitation of a market for sustainable energy technol-ogies;
  • Promotion of research, development, & demonstration in sustainable ener-gy solutions;
  • Dissemination of good/best practices.
A number of other measures:
  • Consumption standards and labels for energy use of appliances, machinery, houses, etc. Schemes for standards should address the problem of substandard products sold to countries with lower or no standards;
  • Introduction of integrated resource planning, giving priority to demand-side manage-ment;
  • Replace high quality energy use with alternatives, wherever possible; e.g., replace electric space heating with other forms of space heating;
  • Introduction of energy-efficiency measures into the transport sector and creation of sustainable transport systems;
  • Awareness-raising and other measures to reduce energy consumption via influence on lifestyle and individual behaviour, including those of children and youth;
  • Measures to reduce energy consumption by changes in structure, e.g., minimisation and increased re-use of materials; better land-use plan-ning;
  • Support for grassroots and community-based initiatives.
The strategy should not support any scheme of "activities implemented joint-ly". In addition to the many problems of such a scheme, it is a small and unreliable source of funding.
The strategy should NOT give priority to the stimulation of international energy trade, which may increase dependency on unsustainable energy imports. National governments should be able to levy taxes/tariffs on unsustainable energy imports.

This Statement was developed by the Energy- and Climate- Issue Group of the European ECO Forum at the European NGO Seminar for Sustainable Energy, June 22-26, 1997, in Budmerice, Slovakia, and adopted with amendments at the group's next meeting at Lake Bled, Slovenia, November 7-8, 1997. It was presented at the Pan-European Environmental Ministers' Meeting in Aarhus, Denmark, 1998.