Fresh back from holiday, I have just spent an invigorating (yes – invigorating!) couple of days in Brussels, amongst other things, chairing a major seminar on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) as part of the European Union’s Sustainable Energy Week.   It does not sound very exciting does it, but trust me, it is really interesting how many commercial, environmental, political delegates were elbowing their way into the venue.  With a good speaking panel consisting of representatives of all of the above, but an audience of over 250 yesterday (Tuesday 29th January) to hear how this essential directive is implemented or in some cases not being implemented, the importance of which cannot be underestimated given that buildings still represent over 40 per cent of carbon emissions across Europe. 

The aim of the session was to launch a major piece of research work across 21 countries (19 EU Member States and two EU linked countries) which gives a snap shot of where Member States and EU linked countries are regarding the implementation of this key directive and it makes pretty sobering reading in places!  By the way, if you want to see a copy of it, then please click here.

The good news is that despite a patchy performance across Europe virtually all countries are now moving in the right direction, although inevitably some much faster and further than others.  The aim of the report was not to name and to shame, but clearly individual countries will draw their own conclusions from the results and will know their place in the league table and how they compare in terms of the best practice Case Studies.

I mention all of this because we often and probably in many cases quite rightly see only the dead hand of European bureaucracy with regard to the climate change agenda, but I have to say in this particular instance I came away heartened not only by the people I spoke to, but also the commitment of individual Member States to deliver on this agenda.  All very heartening in the context of what’s been going on elsewhere in the World this week.

The other thing to plug, if you have not yet had the chance to use it is the new Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Brussels. I can say without reservation it is absolutely fantastic, under two hours non stop between London and Brussels without a flicker, who needs airport expansion, if travel can be like this no one would go any other way.  Lets hope it’s a sign of things to come and perhaps we might even one day see the quality of this sort of service extended to Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Glasgow, Edinburgh etc etc and then some of the fatuous discussions about domestic air travel will evaporate as fast as the air trails they currently leave behind them.  Enough of whimsy – will be back soon.