Buildings hold key to Europe’s gas independence, study says

As the temperature falls in Europe while relations with gas-exporting Russia remain frosty, a new study says that the EU could halve both gas imports and carbon emissions making buildings more energy efficient, moving to renewable energy and cutting gas consumption in industry.

The analysis released today argues that carbon reductions of 49% or more could be achieved, and comes just days before the European Council meets to set new climate change targets.

Ramping up investments in energy efficiency would lead to a 58% reduction in gas consumption in buildings, which accounts for 23% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU, finds the report.

It was written by consultants Ecofys for the Open Climate Network (OCN), a global network of independent research institutes and civil society groups.

Buildings account for 39% of final energy consumption in the EU, the largest share of any sector. Residential buildings account for about two thirds of this demand, while offices and other non-residential buildings account for the remainder, the report says.

"Contrary to popular belief, Europe can be energy independent," said Jennifer Morgan, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute, secretariat for the OCN. 

"This analysis shows that the EU can cut natural gas imports in half without raising costs for consumers. This is a win-win approach for the EU, increasing its energy security and raising the bar for climate action."

The study says that its recommended measures could also achieve a 20% reduction in gas consumption from industry, equal to 5% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU, and a 63% reduction in gas consumption from power generation, equal to 19% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU.

The report, "Increasing the EU’s Energy Independence: A No-Regrets Strategy for Energy Security and Climate Change", can be downloaded here.

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