BRUSSELS: More than 2 billion euros of European Union funding to help businesses save energy contributed little to climate change targets and in some cases funded investments that would have happened anyway, according to an auditor report released on Monday.
The EU regards curbing energy use as essential to meeting goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and record high gas and power prices in recent months have increased the focus on measures to save energy.
But so far, EU funding to support energy savings for businesses has not been effective, the European Court of Auditors said in a report.
The EU spent 2.4 billion euros ($2.74 billion) from its budget over 2014-2020 to support energy efficiency in enterprises, including energy audits and measures to cut energy consumption or energy intensity in industry, services or the public sector.
The auditors estimated that projects backed by that funding achieved 0.3 percent of the annual savings needed to reach the EU’s target to cut final energy consumption by 32.5 percent by 2030, compared to projected levels.
“European Union funding is insufficiently linked to business needs — there was no proper analysis of what is really needed by the enterprises,” ECA member Samo Jereb told Reuters.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Poland, accounted for the bulk of the support.
Brussels plans to increase its 2030 energy saving target, and last year unveiled plans to renovate millions of buildings to achieve the huge energy efficiency improvements needed to meet its climate goals. Residential energy savings were not covered by the auditors’ report.