Analysis Reveals Disparities in EU Energy-Saving Measures Amid Ongoing Crisis
A recent analysis conducted by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a Brussels-based nonprofit organization, has revealed that despite the ongoing energy crisis, only half of the European Union (EU) member states have implemented mandatory energy saving measures for the upcoming winter. The majority of these measures remain voluntary and are limited to public buildings. The research conducted by the EEB highlights significant disparities among EU countries in their efforts to reduce gas and electricity consumption. Out of the 27 EU countries, only 14 have adopted mandatory measures to curb energy use. Poland, Lithuania, Cyprus, and the Netherlands have joined this group within the past six months. Countries that were previously reliant on Russian gas imports, such as Italy and Germany, have implemented the most comprehensive gas-saving measures. However, some countries with lower gas dependency, including France and Spain, have also implemented strict measures targeting both the public and private sectors, as well as small businesses and large industries. Conversely, Luxembourg, Austria, Malta, Nordic, and Eastern European states have relatively weaker energy reduction measures in place. Bulgaria, Romania, and Latvia have not introduced any national measures to reduce gas and electricity consumption despite the EU energy crisis, although a third of EU nations were in the same situation as recently as December. Among the EU member states, Portugal stands out as the only country that transparently reports on energy savings implementation and progress. It has established a monitoring committee and provides analysis of specific measures, according to the EEB. Davide Sabbadin, the senior policy officer for climate and energy at the EEB, emphasized that although reduced energy demand during the previous winter resulted in lower energy prices and reduced emissions, the underlying question remains: how was this achieved? Relying solely on unusually mild temperatures and high prices is not a substitute for effective policy. Energy-saving measures are more socially equitable than high prices. Sabbadin further stressed that governments should not burden the most vulnerable citizens with the responsibility for the energy crisis. Mandatory energy reductions for businesses and the public sector can ensure energy savings in a fair and reliable manner. With the possibility that exceptionally favorable conditions for energy savings may not occur again this winter, EU member states need to take bold action. The EEB calls for public monitoring and evaluation of the impact of these measures by the EU.