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EU strikes deal to curb energy use by 2030

FILE PHOTO: European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The European Union struck a deal on Friday to cut final energy consumption across the bloc by 11.7% by 2030, a goal lawmakers said would help fight climate change and curb Europe's use of Russian fossil fuels.

The deal was agreed after all-night talks between negotiators from EU countries and the European Parliament.

Hitting the targets will require countries to renovate millions of draughty buildings to waste less energy. With most European buildings heated by fossil fuels, the policy is crucial to the EU's efforts to combat climate change.

"This will mean real change for the benefit of the climate and disadvantage of Putin," said Niels Fuglsang, Parliament's lead negotiator.

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Negotiators agreed that energy consumed by end-users in the bloc such as households and factories in 2030 should be 11.7% lower than expected use by that date.

But the deal fell short of the 13% target the European Commission last year said the EU would need to help wean countries off Russian fossil fuels faster after Moscow invaded Ukraine.

"It improves the current energy efficiency directive, but not to the extent needed to meet the REPowerEU objectives," Arianna Vitali, Secretary General of the non-profit Coalition for Energy Savings, referring to the EU's targets to quit Russian fossil fuels by 2027.

The EU Parliament had wanted a higher goal of 14%, while some EU countries pushed for a lower 9% - the original EU proposal from 2021, which it changed following Russia's invasion.

The target will be legally binding. Countries will set their own non-binding national goals - but if they do not add up to the 11.7% goal, the European Commission will correct them.

From 2024 to 2030, countries will have to save an average of 1.49% of final energy consumption per year. Countries will have to speed up renovations of publicly-owned buildings, renovating at least 3% of such buildings' total floor area each year.

The deal will now go to the European Parliament and EU countries for a final vote, which is usually a formality that approves the law with no changes.

(Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Charlotte Van Campenhout, Kate Abnett; Editing by Toby Chopra)