Evidence has emerged the UK govt is massaging figures to meet EU energy saving targets

Andrew Warren

The UK government has been accused of deliberate cheating, when presenting the European Commission with its latest formal assessment of anticipated energy savings by 2020.

Under the Energy Efficiency Directive, each government is required to issue an action plan for energy efficiency, setting out how it plans to deliver the agreed 1.5% additional annual final energy savings. Between 2014 and 2020, the UK has agreed to deliver 27,859 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe).

In order to appear to be meeting this target, the UK has made some remarkable adjustments. It has unilaterally increased by 350% the anticipated savings due to be made via the Climate Change Levy (up from 0.6 to 2.1Mtoe). Similarly the energy reductions now projected from Climate Change Agreements with the 53 participating industrial sectors has almost quadrupled, compared with the initial action plan presented only two years before.

Stefan Scheuer of the Brussels-based Coalition for Energy Savings is calling for the European Commission to file infraction procedures against the UK government

These extra claims are now being made despite both policies having been in existence, without significant alteration, since 2001. They also involve some companies covered by the European emissions trading scheme (EU:ETS). Any savings from their activities are explicitly supposed to be excluded from any reporting under this directive, to avoid double-counting. This does not appear to be happening in the UK’s case.

Similarly the UK is claiming increased energy saving as a result of anticipated improvements to the Building Regulations for all new constructions. However, as all new buildings are already required, under the earlier Energy Performance of Buildings directive, to be built to very low energy standards by 2019, such extra savings are once again likely to be being double-counted.

“Only half of what the UK has done so far is eligible” warns Stefan Scheuer of the Brussels-based Coalition for Energy Savings, who revealed these surreptitious changes. He is calling for the European Commission to file infraction procedures against the UK government.

The UK has already negotiated a special “banking and borrowing” concession that permits measures to be counted even when taken four years before, or three years after, the directive’s 2014 to 2020 time limits.

Andrew Warren is honorary president of the Association for the Conservation of Energy


Subsequent to this comment being posted, the Department of Energy and Climate Change contacted Building about its content. A spokesperson for DECC said: “These claims are misleading, and don’t represent the European Commission’s position. The UK has a strong track record on reducing energy demand, and we are rightly seen a global leader.”

This response was added May 28.