A wider EU regulatory obligation to renovate

On 28 November 2018, the Commission published a European strategic long-term vision for a climate neutral economy. It highlights the findings of the October 2018 Special Report Global Warming of 1.5°C of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that disastrous and irreversible impacts will take place as soon as the planet warms by more that 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Meanwhile, temperatures are already at +1.0°C and increasing at 0.2°C per decade. The Commission concludes that the only way to stay below 1.5°C is for the world to be at net-zero* greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 and that the EU must lead.

The Commission then looks at the Union’s current trajectory:

It notes that EU GHG emissions peaked in 1979, that the goal of GHG emission reduction of 20% by 2020 compared to 1990 will be surpassed, and that thanks to the latest package of legislation now approved, the EU will deliver on the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. Indeed, it will achieve 45% by 2030 and 60% by 2050, in other words, far below net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Commission states that at this late stage, the only way to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 is by tackling everything at once, using every disposable tool. These are:

  1. Maximise energy efficiency including zero emission buildings
  2. Maximise the deployment of renewables and the use of electricity to fully decarbonise Europe’s energy supply
  3. Clean mobility
  4. Circular economy (no waste)
  5. Smart network infrastructure and inter-connections
  6. Bio-economy and carbon sinks (forestation)
  7. Carbon capture and storage

From the seven policy areas regarding the energy efficiency is n° 1 with special emphasis on buildings:

“… much of the reduced energy demand will occur in buildings, in both the residential and services sectors, which today are responsible for 40% of energy consumption. Given that most of the housing stock of 2050 exists already today, this will require higher renovation rates, fuel switching with a large majority of homes that will be using renewable heating (electricity, district heating, renewable gas or solar thermal), diffusion of the most efficient products and appliances, smart building/appliances management systems, and improved materials for insulation. Sustainable renewable heating will continue to play a major role and gas, including liquefied natural gas, mixed with hydrogen, or e-methane produced from renewable electricity and biogas mixtures could all play a key role in existing buildings as well as in many industrial applications. To achieve and sustain higher renovation rates, adequate financial instruments to overcome existing market failures, sufficient workforce with the right skills and affordability for all citizens are of central importance. An integrated approach and consistency across all relevant policies will be necessary for the modernisation of the built environment and mobilisation of all actors. Consumer engagement, including through consumer associations, will be a key element in this process.” (p. 8, par. 4).

It is equally intentional that the list of measures begins and ends with higher renovation rates, because it trumps all the others if it is deep renovation to nearly zero-energy standard.

The European Commission invites the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the Committee of the Regions, the Economic and Social Committee and the European Investment Bank to consider the EU vision for a climate neutral Europe by 2050. In order to prepare EU Heads of State or Government for shaping the Future of Europe at the Special Summit on 9 May 2019 in Sibiu, all relevant Council formations should hold extensive policy debates on the contribution of their respective policy areas to the overall vision.

In parallel, in the first half of 2019, the European Commission will take the debate on the necessary deep economic transformation and the profound societal change in an open and inclusive manner to all EU Member States. National Parliaments, business, non- governmental organisations, cities and communities, as well as citizens at large and the youth should participate in Citizens Dialogues discussing the EU’s fair contribution to the efficient achievement of the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement in the long-term, and to identify key building blocks to achieve this transformation.








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