Public consultation on Energy Efficiency Directive review: The polyurethane industry puts its vision forward

Why does the European Commission carry out public consultations? Because engaging with external stakeholders is an essential part of the democratic process. For this reason, before presenting new legislative or regulatory proposals, the Commission seeks the position of industry, civil society organisations or anyone who has a position in order to get feedback on its intentions and plans.

With energy efficiency topping the agenda at EU level, and in light of the review the Energy Efficiency Directive – due to be published in the autumn of 2016 – the Commission called on stakeholders to submit their positions by 29 January. Did you submit yours?

At ISOPA, we look forward to the Commission’s proposal and hope industry’s comments are being taken on board. After all, polyurethanes will play an important role in achieving energy efficiency objectives in a number of key sectors such as transport, construction, and appliances.

The review of Energy Efficiency Directive has indeed important implications for our industry and value chain:

  • First, with buildings accounting for 40 per cent of energy use in Europe, it will be key to develop new solutions for consumers to boost their energy savings. Harnessing energy efficiency in buildings is a huge opportunity for Europe. It can incentivise the development of innovative technologies, create jobs, and enable all consumers (particularly vulnerable ones) to save money. However, this initiative has to be set in a cost-effective framework. For example, emphasis ought to be put on deep renovation delivering long-term results. Yet, as this is not financially possible for everybody, the Commission and Member States should develop supporting financial schemes. Meanwhile, performance standards and labelling have to be very clear, yet adapted to different national needs; some countries are more advanced than others in their efficiency requirements and EU legislation should not hamper efforts to create a level playing field.
  • Furthermore, energy intensive industries, such as the producers of diisocyanates, the building blocks of polyurethane, will be impacted from the review of energy efficiency legislation. With the Commission emphasising the importance of restoring competitiveness and creating new jobs in Europe it is critical policy makers take into account the socio-economic impact of regulation on the European chemical industry, in particular with regards to costly regulatory overlaps. The chemical industry is indeed already subject to the European Emissions Trading System (ETS); a scheme that secures the most energy efficient choices are made. Therefore, should an energy cap be imposed on energy intensive sectors such as chemicals, European industry would face an unprecedented competitive challenge. Europe would become the only region in the world where manufacturing growth would be limited. Instead of setting targets to be met at any cost, the European Union should provide more precise regulatory and financial incentives for innovation. At European level, as at global level, it’s flexibility and innovation that will bring future solutions.

Once all contributions are processed, the Commission will publish a report presenting its analysis of the responses. Hopefully the report will feed the Commission’s review which is expected to come out this autumn.

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