Europe’s first – and only – formal energy efficiency financial institutions group, the EEFIG, is celebrating a decade of action accelerating energy efficiency investing. Aside from not having a five-letter acronym, there is a lot to learn from the humble EEFIG, especially – in the words of the recent Versailles Statement – for a world that plans to “Urge the financial sector to support and prioritise investments in energy efficiency in accelerating efforts to reach net zero”. EEFIG’s insights and tools are very timely for the 85 countries that met at the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ministerial energy efficiency conference earlier this month.

Launched in 2013, EEFIG was a forerunner of sustainable finance expert groups such as the HLEG, TEG and SFP, all aimed at engaging financial actors to improve EU energy and climate-related policies. With several hundred members, around 40% of whom represented – or indeed actively worked at – financial institutions, EEFIG fiercely defended its role as a “mid-level” group, providing balanced recommendations to both policymakers and market participants alike.

EEFIG worked in multiannual, multi-stakeholder, hand-selected expert groups to answer detailed questions from the European Commission and the UN Environment Programme’s Finance Initiative, producing both long-form reports and a series of much-needed tools, maps and databases for market participants. Notable EEFIG achievements include:

The binding EU final energy consumption targets agreed this spring in the recast EU Energy Efficiency Directive are historic. They require a reduction of energy consumption by 21% in just eight years – a faster rate than ever previously achieved in Europe. This will require €275bn ($301bn) of additional energy efficiency investments annually, and much of EEFIG’s work should help to unlock this in buildings, industry and SMEs.

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Fortunately, energy efficiency technologies are truly amazing: a 4W LED replaces a 50W halogen lamp with the same quality light using 96% less energy; variable frequency drives save 30–50% of energy use in industrial pumps and fans (the largest source of industrial energy use); zero-energy buildings are on the rise; electric drive systems lose just 15–20% of primary energy, when internal combustion engines lose 64–75%; and heat pumps deliver 300–500% energy efficiency when replacing 90% efficient condensing gas boilers.

For the past ten years, EEFIG has provided a forum for leading public and private sector financial institutions to show how they approach the energy efficiency challenge in a constructive way. EEFIG has carefully paved the way for the Commission’s launch of a high-level European Energy Efficiency Financing Coalition, in cooperation with member states, which will carry on EEFIG’s work. Thanks are due to so many individuals and organisations that made EEFIG a resounding success. You know who you are, and what you worked for.

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About the author: Peter Sweatman is the chief executive of Climate Strategy & Partners. He was the rapporteur for the EU Commission and UNEP FI’s Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG) from 2013 to 2023.

You can watch EEFIG’s ‘closing event’ at EU Sustainable Energy Week on 21 June 2023 here.