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EU 2050 Low-carbon Roadmap: heading in the right direction

09 March 2011
EU 2050 Low-carbon Roadmap: heading in the right direction

The EU-Commission’s 2050 Roadmap points out the correct challenges but the Energy Efficiency Plan doesn’t sufficiently answer these.

The EU Commission’s Low-carbon Roadmap to 2050 which was published this week, clearly shows that 80 per cent green house gas emissions reductions can be reached cost-effectively by 2050, if we take action now. The Commission outlines ways to achieve a low-carbon European economy in accord with the European Union’s economic, environmental and energy security goals; and we welcome this long-term direction as it is crucial for businesses’ investment security. But low carbon technology investments and smart energy infrastructure building needs to start today, and more ambitious short term targets must be politically agreed now, to unlock a Clean Revolution in Europe.

The Commission also points out that we are about to be overtaken by emerging economies such as China and India, which invest 48 per cent and 35 per cent of their GDP in these sectors, compared to just 19 per cent for Europe. The proposed additional investment rate of 1.5 per cent is good, but more substantial increases are necessary. This is also highlighted by The Climate Group’s report on the Chinese 12th Five Year Plan.

Given the focus on energy savings to achieve the projected 2050 target, expectations on Commissioner Oettinger’s Energy Efficiency Plan, which was also published this week, were high. The Plan unfolds some interesting policy elements but holds too few innovative proposals to overcome the legal and financial barriers, without which the market cannot expand. Also, the Plan needs to be more of an action-plan and should not wait until 2012 to include binding energy saving targets for member states.

Both the trajectory in the 2050 Roadmap and the modeling with the current policies - including full implementation of the Energy Efficiency Plan - lead to the same 25 per cent domestic emission reductions target. This means ‘no regret’ measures and greater benefits including better health, job creation, energy security and competitiveness in the low carbon economy. Other modeling exercises show that reaching Europe’s existing renewable energy and energy efficiency targets alone come close to 30 per cent below 1990 levels, for 2020’s domestic emission reductions.

Luc Bas, European Programs Director, The Climate Group said: “The EU Commission's Roadmap rightfully says Europe can achieve deeper domestic emission reductions in a cost effective way, but it ignores research that says if Europe acts now to up its ambition to a 30 per cent overall reduction target, it will stimulate even greater clean tech innovation, EU investments and jobs. This is even more striking in a week when China is putting a clean industrial revolution at the heart of its next five year economic plan to boost its energy security, competitive growth and jobs.”

We will continue to work with business and governments to call for an overall 30 per cent reduction target in 2020, based on the May 2010 communication of the Commission, to safeguard Europe’s competitiveness in the low carbon economy.

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