Efforts by European governments to reduce EU energy demand have been insufficient and inconsistent, finds new analysis by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), a network of NGOs.
Of the 27 EU member states, eight have not implemented any measures to reduce gas and electricity consumption, according to the analysis, while only 12 states have adopted mandatory energy reduction measures. Countries that import large quantities of Russian gas, such as Italy and Germany, have introduced the strongest measures to save on gas.
France and Spain, which are less dependent on gas, have also implemented comprehensive energy reduction measures targeting both the public and private sectors including households, industry and small businesses, says the EEB.
However, Austria, Finland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden and eastern European states have weaker energy reduction measures in place.
The EEB notes that the Netherlands and Croatia, despite being heavily dependent on gas, have only introduced voluntary gas-saving measures. Romania and Lithuania, which are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, have not implemented any measures to reduce energy consumption at all.
Four months ago, EU leaders agreed to reduce energy demand – for gas by 15% and for electricity by 10% – but the measures put in place have been limited and varied, says the EEB, which published its analysis on 14 December 2022
"The sooner we reduce our energy usage, the quicker we reduce pressure on high energy prices, providing effective relief for households and industry,” said Davide Sabbadin, deputy policy manager for climate at the EEB, in a statement. “All signals tell us that filling gas storage before next year's winter might be far more challenging. Reducing the energy demand must be the top priority for policymakers, rather than short-term measures to keep us locked into an inefficient, fossil fuel-hungry model."
"The EU can definitively do more to coordinate energy-saving action among its member states,” he added.