The EU Air Quality Review: What Role for Energy Efficiency, Clean Energy and Demand Response?
The European Commission (EC) has announced that 2013 is the “Year of Air” and a comprehensive policy package will be proposed by year end. As part of a decadal review of air quality standards, the EC’s 2013 focus offers significant opportunity to link air quality and energy policies. The EU approach to air policy involves the setting of overarching national emission ceilings and air quality limit values for various pollutants, supplemented by regulation of major sources of these pollutants. However, since the late 1990s, decarbonisation of the EU economy has moved rapidly up the political agenda. The EC’s Low Carbon Economy 2050 Roadmap sets out the magnitude of CO2 emissions reductions needed by 2030 and 2050 from sectors which supply and use energy: power, industry, transport, residential, and services. This paper suggests that a pathway which prioritises energy efficiency alongside clean, sustainable energy and demand response will simultaneously reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and legislated harmful air pollutants to realise significant co-benefits. The latter include benefits for human health and ecosystems, greater energy supply security and power reliability, lower investment costs for new power-related infrastructure, and increased competitiveness. This paper assesses the extent to which current development of the EU’s air quality policy is integrating with climate and energy policy and where further integration could be possible, drawing from global examples of best practice.