Climate policy must include efficiency: Letter from Tony Robson, CEO of Knauf Insulation to the Financial Times 16.01.2014
By Knauf Australia on January 16, 2014

Sir, I feel compelled to write in response to your article “Brussels rethinks renewables targets” (January 14).

Sir, I feel compelled to write in response to your article “Brussels rethinks renewables targets” (January 14). Decisions on energy policy are probably one of the most important issues facing both national governments and the EU and have, as a consequence, been the subject of lobbying from interested parties on all sides of the debate. And let me be clear from the outset, my company has a vested interest in the outcome.

The last decision by the EU in 2007 to introduce binding European targets for both greenhouse gas emissions and renewables but only an “indicative target” on energy efficiency had the predictable effect of forcing national governments to focus on the binding targets but only pay lip service to energy efficiency.

I am old enough to remember the 1970s oil crisis and its aftermath. Car fuel efficiency, expressed in the form of miles per gallon or litres per 100km, not only entered the popular lexicon but became one of the determining factors in the public’s car-buying decisions. Consumers instantly understood what fuel efficiency meant and its benefits. They could measure it in their pockets every time they refuelled.

Unfortunately, energy efficiency in buildings – responsible for 40 per cent of energy consumed in the EU – is not so easy to measure. There is no “litres per 100 square metre” floor space measurement. This is because the ways in which buildings are built are varied across Europe.

That is why a binding target for energy efficiency must be the starting point for the EU’s climate policy for 2030. Increased efficiencies are a must for every business, why should energy be any different?

Energy efficiency is not sexy. No politician gets media exposure from opening a refurbished building. It is an industry characterised by thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises that collectively do not have the lobbying budgets of any single large energy provider – that is one reason why the energy efficiency “voice” is not well heard and the arguments less well understood. It is also why legislation is imperative.

Tony Robson, Group Chief Executive Officer, Knauf Insulation, Iphofen, Germany