A roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050

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Source: GLOBE Foundation

A recent and controversial 'Communication' to member states sets out key elements that should shape the EU's climate action helping the EU become a competitive low carbon economy by 2050.

The approach is based on the view that innovative solutions are required to mobilize investments in energy, transport, industry and information and communication technologies, and more focus is needed on energy efficiency policies.

It presents a Roadmap for possible action up to 2050 which could enable the EU to deliver greenhouse gas reductions in line with the 80 to 95% target agreed.

It also outlines milestones which would show whether the EU is on course for reaching its target, policy challenges, investment needs and opportunities in different sectors, bearing in mind that the 80 to 95% reduction objective in the EU will largely need to be met internally.

The Commission's detailed analysis of cost-effective ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 has produced a number of important findings.

First, in order to be in line with the 80 to 95% overall GHG reduction objective by 2050, the Roadmap indicates that a cost effective and gradual transition would require a 40% domestic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 as a milestone for 2030, and 80% for 2050.

Building on what has already been achieved, the EU needs to start working now on appropriate strategies to move in this direction, and all Member States should soon develop national low carbon Roadmaps if not already done. The Commission is prepared to provide some of the necessary tools and policies.

Second, the analysis also shows that with existing policies, the EU will achieve the goal of a 20% GHG reduction domestically by 2020. If the revised Energy Efficiency Plan would be fully and effectively implemented meeting the 20% energy efficiency target, this would enable the EU to outperform the current 20% emission reduction target and achieve 25% reductions. 

Third, as well as reducing the threat of dangerous climate change as part of ambitious global action, deep reductions in the EU's emissions have the potential to deliver benefits in the form of savings on fossil fuel imports and improvements in air quality and public health.
 
Fourth, the Roadmap gives ranges for emissions reductions for 2030 and 2050 for key sectors. To realise these milestones as cost-effectively as possible, and to maximise benefits for EU manufacturing industries, the implementation of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan is of crucial importance.

Considering the important labour market implications, the New Skills and Jobs Agenda will need to support the transition process.
 
The Commission intends to use the Roadmap as a basis for developing sector specific policy initiatives and Roadmaps, such as the 2050 Energy Roadmap and the upcoming White Paper on Transport. 

The Commission will initiate the appropriate sectoral dialogues. The Commission will continue to ensure that the EU ETS remains a key instrument to drive low carbon investments in a cost-efficient manner. It will also remain attentive to the risk of carbon leakage in order to ensure a level-playing field for industry.
 
As part of the development of the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework, it will also examine how EU funding can support instruments and investments that are necessary to promote the transition to a low carbon economy, taking into account the specificities of sectors, countries and regions.

There has been much commentary pro and con regarding the proposed Roadmap, and E.U. Environment Commissioner Connie Hedegaard will have a tough job bringing all parties in line for its implementation.

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