The European Union is likely to miss its target of cutting energy consumption by a fifth by 2020 unless it takes bolder action, the European Commission said at the start of a public consultation.
There are strong indications that with ongoing actions the EU will not be able to reach its saving objective for 2020, said a Commission document seen by Reuters on Friday at the outset of the consultation, which runs until August 3.
It blamed slow progress over energy efficiency on poor public awareness and weak politicians who underestimate the prospects for creating jobs among builders, plumbers and electricians.
The political decision makers are not eager to touch upon delicate behavior-related issues, the document said.
The 27-nation bloc hopes to slash energy use to reduce its exposure to volatile fossil fuel prices, cut its dependence on gas imports from Russia, and curb climate warming emissions to a fifth below 1990 levels by 2020.
The estimated energy consumption reduction potential in 2020 is 19 percent for industry, 20 percent for transport and 30 percent for the households and services sector, said the report.
The Commission highlighted upcoming proposals on fuel-efficiency standards for vans and rules to ensure advertisements give proper information on the climate impact of cars.
It invited debate on financial incentives, and competitions for funding of demonstrations of Smart Cities -- a new concept in which buildings glean power from the sun and wind overhead and feed it down to trams, trains and buses in the street.
It suggested measures to stimulate rapid training of architects, builders and installers on the possibilities for improving energy performance.
Further discussion is also needed on whether the EU should move toward fixing an agreed date for all newbuild to be very low or zero energy and carbon, it added.
The EU is currently overhauling building rules and many politicians are pushing for all new buildings to be carbon neutral from 2018.
(Reporting by Pete Harrison, editing by Anthony Barker)