Published: Thu, 09 February 2023
Seán Kelly MEP has welcomed an important vote in favour of plans to vastly improve the energy efficiency of buildings across the EU. The European Parliament’s Energy Committee gave its endorsement to the report on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) with 49 votes in favour, 18 against and 6 abstentions. In leading negotiations on the new legislation for the EPP Group, MEP Kelly sought a balance between environmental goals and supporting citizens who are already grappling with the increasing cost of living.
With buildings responsible for approximately 40 percent of EU’s energy consumption and 36pc of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, there is a clear need to address the built environment.
“Without tackling this area, we will not achieve climate targets as defined by law. However, this is not just about cost, but also opportunity. It will make households and companies more resilient to energy price surges by lowering the energy consumption of buildings.”
“Even after the crisis is over, we are looking at ‘new normal’ of higher gas prices. We need to help households as those in worst performing buildings could be hit ten times harder than people in an efficient building”, Kelly continued.
“There is a delicate balance between improving the energy performance of the built environment, while taking full account of the challenges for ordinary people and businesses to renovate. We need realistic policies and targets in place. That is what I tried to inject into negotiations and will continue to do through-out this entire legislative process.
“It is a massive undertaking, but there are many benefits to renovation. Not just from an energy and climate perspective, but also for health with renovations improving indoor air quality and comfort. There is also a return on investment, with cheaper energy costs as well as increasing the value of property.
“Building renovations can seem daunting to many people, but this is why the EPP fought hard in negotiations to send a strong signal to citizens by deleting a reference to penalties in the legislation. I believe that the real enforcement mechanism will be the market itself. In my view, the EPBD is as much about assets and investment protection as it is climate.
“The big barrier for most people is access to finance. We cannot impose obligations without provide the means to achieve them. The EPBD helps this significantly by creating much stronger links between the financial and the renovation sectors. Grants and subsidy schemes will play a big part of this at national and EU level, but public funds will only stretch so far, private money needs to be made available in a way that makes sense for citizens. Nobody should be left behind here.
“In addition, Europe has thousands of beautiful buildings that hold historical and architectural importance. These buildings are part of our history and culture, it is very important that their character is protected along with efforts to decarbonise. This was key point for my group in negotiations”, he underlined.
“There is also the positive effect on jobs. The construction sector employs 10pc of the EU workforce, with 95pc of companies being SMEs. However, this important sector has experienced its sharpest decline since 2013. The EPBD will have a positive impact on the building value chain and create many thousands of well-paid and stable jobs.
“For me it’s clear that smart investment in the building sector will produce many positive outcomes for citizens, businesses, society and the economy” MEP Kelly added.