The business association European Business Council for Sustainable Energy (e5), founded 1996, champions the future viability of European economy. The abbreviation e5 stands for the five dimensions of a sustainable industrial society: e-conomy, e-fficiency, e-nvironment, e-nergy, and e-mployment. The focus of e5’s work is on anthropogenic Climate Change: The ultimate economic challenge of this century is the conversion of our combustion-orientated economy and the initialisation of a global industrial revolution which leads the way towards a technological infrastructure free of greenhouse gas emissions. e5’s conviction is that proactive sustainable energy and climate protection policies provide immense advantages and opportunities for European Business.

  • As sustainability incubator, e5 identifies key factors for the future viability of markets, business models, technologies and economies and initiates pathbreaking pioneer projects.
  • As an entrepreneurial vanguard initiative, e5 paves the way for innovative business models and advocates the interests of resource-efficient business in the political arena.
  • As an internationally recognised dialogue platform, it advances knowledge exchange between business, science, civil society and policy-makers.

For more information or specifics on e5’s work, please visit the website

Climate policy in Europe

The EU is committed to reducing its overall emissions to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020, and is ready to scale up this reduction to as much as 30% under a new global climate change agreement when other developed countries make comparable efforts. It has also set itself the target of increasing the share of renewables in energy use to 20% by 2020 and to increase the share of biofuels in transport to 10% by 2020 – these biofuels will also have to meet sustainability criteria.

These targets are set out in a two-year-action plan for a joint European energy policy on which the European Council agreed upon in March 2007. Core of this action plan is the aim to reduce global warming to 2 degrees. In December 2008 the European Parliament and Council finally reached an agreement on the “Climate action and renewable energy package” where the contribution of each Member State to meet these targets is set out and a series of measures to help achieve them is proposed.

A central part of the strategy is the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading System (EU ETS) which began in January 2005. The EU ETS is the largest multi-country, multi-sector Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading System world-wide. Auctioning is now mandatory for the electricity production sector, but power plants in the new member states in Eastern Europe benefit from broad exemptions. Emissions from the sectors covered by the system will be cut by 21% by 2020 compared with levels in 2005. The sector of aviation was included in the EU ETS in January 2009 in order to mitigate its still fast increasing climate impact. Sectors such as transport, housing, agriculture and waste are not included in the EU ETS, emissions from these sectors will be cut by 10% from 2005 levels by 2020. Each Member State will contribute to this effort according to its relative wealth, with national emission targets ranging from -20% for richer Member States to +20% for poorer ones. The development and future use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) is also part of the package, although its benefits are still debatable.

In April 2009, the EU officially published new legislation setting emission performance standards for new passenger cars. By 2012, 65% of each manufacturer´s newly registered cars must comply on average with 130 grams CO2 per kilometer, by 2015 onwards, it will be 100%. The long term emissions target for new passenger cars is 95g/km by 2020.

The European Commission published a Green Paper on Energy Efficiency in June 2005, followed by an Action Plan in October 2006. Already in December 2005, a directive on energy end-use efficiency and energy services was adopted. The directive requires member states to draw up national action plans to achieve 1% yearly energy savings in the retail, supply and distribution of electricity, natural gas, urban heating, and other energy products including transport fuels. The 1% target is only indicative but the national action plans have to be approved by the Commission and will be reviewed every three years. The process started in January 2008. The directive seeks to increase energy efficiency all along the supply chain. It covers the retail, supply and distribution of electricity and natural gas, as well as other major energy services including urban heating, heating fuel, coal and lignite, forestry, agricultural energy products and transport fuels.

The Eco-Design directive was reached in April 2005 and aims at increasing energy efficiency of all electricity-running consumer appliances. Regulations regarding Eco-Design included for example phase-out incandescent light bulbs between 2009 and 2012 and the aim to reduce standby power consumption. In September 2009 a revised Eco-Design directive was adopted extending its scope to all energy-related products.

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) was adopted in 2002. On 17 November 2009, a recast was published, agreeing that all new buildings would have to comply with high energy-performance standards and supply a significant share of their energy requirements from renewable sources after the end of 2020. The public sector has to take the lead by owning and renting buildings with “nearly zero” energy standards by the end of 2018.

An additional EU directive from November 2012 on energy efficiency sets further obligations from 2014 on. The member states have to renovate each year 3% of the total floor area of buildings owned and occupied by their central governments to meet energy performance requirements. Moreover they have to design road maps for the renovation of the national stocks of all buildings. Energy companies are required to reduce their energy sales to industrial and household clients by 1.5% each year and large enterprises (more then 250 employees and more than 50 million EUR of annual turnover) are obliged to energy efficiency audits at regular intervals.