Low carbon roadmap for 2050: First step for more ambitious EU climate policy

Publish date: March 8, 2011

Written by: Lorelei Limousin

The ”Roadmap for building a competitive low-carbon Europe by 2050” and the ”EU Energy Efficiency Plan 2011” were launched today. The Roadmap sets out more ambitious domestic greenhouse gas emission milestones for 2030 and 2050 than what current legislation will deliver. Although the EU is moving ahead, it has not properly scaled up the GHG emissions reduction target for 2020. Bellona believes a more ambitious immediate action is required.

“The important thing is that the Commission with this document recognises that existing legislation is not enough. Now we need to work together to see how climate legislation can be made smarter and more effective, particularly to drive decarbonisation of the energy sector,” says Eivind Hoff, Director of Bellona Europa. A sector-specific roadmap for the energy sector is due in October.

”We need to start the transition towards a competitive low carbon economy now. The longer we wait, the higher the cost will be,” said the Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard, at a press conference today.

As a result, the roadmap is drawn up to show how the EU could reach the target set by EU heads of state and government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 from 1990 levels. The roadmap suggests domestic emission reductions (i.e. excluding emission credits from abroad) from 1990 levels of 25% by 2020, 40% by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 80% by 2050. Unfortunately and despite many different stakeholders’ recommendations, it has not properly scaled up the GHG emissions reduction target for 2020 and therefore relies on accelerating emission decreases towards 2050.

Furthermore, considering that all sectors contribute to climate change, the EU allocates 2030 and 2050 reductions targets to key sectors.

The electricity sector would play the largest role in delivering these cuts, with a 93-99% cut from 1990 levels in 2050.  CCS, additionally to energy efficiency and renewable energy, is said to be a key solution to reach such the target.

The Commission’s analysis shows that emissions in the industrial sector could be reduced by 83 to 87% in 2050. The Roadmap deems CCS on industrial process as a necessary goal to meet this goal, and that it must be broadly deployed after 2035, notably in the cement and the steel sectors. Nonetheless, Bellona thinks that demonstration of industrial applications of CCS must be undertaken much earlier to allow this development.

Besides, the roadmap underscores the role of the agricultural sector in the achievement of the 2050 targets, especially the need to include Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) in the EU climate policy.

There is wide coalition of environmental NGOs, key Member states, MEPs and businesses calling for a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases emissions by 2020. Without scaling up today the EU target from 20% to 30%, investments in low carbon technologies would not be encouraged and their large deployment will not take place in the EU. The Commission has also stated this in a communication from May 2010 that failed to gather sufficient support from Member States. This time, the Commission instead argues for a disappointing 25% cut of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

At the same time was launched the Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which does not follow the MEPs’ call for a binding target for energy efficiency in 2020. The MEPs called for this as the EU is not on track to achieve its political 20% energy efficiency target for 2020.

The roadmap states the need for wide investment from public and private sectors, but does not point to specific drivers and regulations, although it points out that 80% domestic greenhouse gas emission reduction by 2050 requires new, stricter climate legislation than what exists today.


EU Energy Efficiency Plan for 2020

Roadmap for building a competitive low-carbon Europe by 2050