EU launches nine-point plan to mitigate global energy crisis

Bloc calls on individuals to turn down heating, share cars and use more public transport

More cycling is one of the EU's energy-saving recommendations. AP

The European Union is calling on citizens to play their part in breaking the continent’s dependence on Russian energy.

In partnership with the International Energy Agency, which called for a similar plan last month, the bloc outlined nine steps consumers can take: from turning down heating and lowering car speeds to remote working.

Other recommendations include car shares, car-free Sundays in large cities, and more cycling, walking and public transport use.

“We are facing the first global energy crisis,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol, who on Thursday tweeted the nine energy-saving steps.

If efficiency measures aren’t adopted, the consequences could be painful, Mr Birol said, with utilities compelled to ration energy supplies to consumers.

The IEA said, if followed, the recommendations could save 450 euros per year on the energy bill of a typical EU household, depending on factors such as the type of home and car owned.

Just turning down the thermostat by 1C could shave 70 euros off a household's heating bill, while driving on average 10 km per hour slower on motorways could save another 60 euros per year on fuel, it said.

If done EU-wide, the measures could save 220 million barrels of oil per year and 17 billion cubic metres of gas, the IEA said.

Energy saving has long been needed to meet climate goals, but months of soaring energy prices and a scramble to cut reliance on Russian fossil fuels following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine have pushed the issue up the political agenda.

The 27-country EU has pledged to stop Russian fuels by 2027, but in the short term remains dependent on Moscow for 26 per cent of its oil imports and 40 per cent of its gas – importing 155 billion cubic metres of Russian gas per year.

If Russia were to cut off gas supplies, or if the EU sanctioned Russian gas, far wider emergency measures would be needed to slash use of the fuel, such as factory closures and potential energy rationing.

Governments including Austria and Luxembourg welcomed the IEA ideas, although Luxembourg Energy Minister Claude Turmes said EU-wide action, such as reducing speed limits, would be needed to ensure they are taken up.

"This needs to be more than just voluntary," Germany's state secretary for economy and climate, Patrick Graichen said.

Italy said it will impose air conditioning temperature limits for public buildings, but so far few countries have asked citizens to use less energy – even as they race to fill gas storage ahead of winter and brace for potential disruptions to Russian energy supplies.

Updated: April 21, 2022, 12:16 PM
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