EU Commission Roadmap: An 80% to 95% Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

On March 8th, the European Commission adopted "A Roadmap for Moving to a Competitive Low Carbon Economy in 2050" in which it proposed an 80% to 95% reduction of GHG emissions by 2050 from a 1990 baseline. The Commission thereby confirmed the European Council's "Low Carbon 2050 Strategy" announced at its February Summit. In order to reach this ambitious long-term target, the Commission recommended achieving transitional reductions across all GHG-intensive sectors: 20% by 2020, 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040. The Commission nevertheless observed that the EU should be in a position to reduce up to 25% of its total GHG by 2020 provided (amongst others) that: In order to reach this ambitious long-term target, the Commission recommended achieving transitional reductions across all GHG-intensive sectors: 20% by 2020, 40% by 2030 and 60% by 2040. The Commission nevertheless observed that the EU should be in a position to reduce up to 25% of its total GHG by 2020 provided (amongst others) that: (i) the EU reduces its use of primary energy by 20% by 2020; and (ii) the EU reaches a 20% share of its overall energy consumption in renewable energy by 2020 (for more information on these two energy objectives, see Commission's Communication of 31 January 2011 titled: "Renewable Energy: Progressing towards the 2020 target"). Parallel to these generic targets, the Commission also proposed sector-specific reductions. For instance, the Commission suggested GHGs from the agricultural sector be reduced by 36% to 37% for 2030, and by 42% to 49% for 2050. A reduction by 2050 of 54% to 67% of GHGs originating from the transport sector was also recommended. The Commission also advised a reduction by 2050 of 83% to 87% of GHGs in the industrial sector. This roadmap draws increased political attention to agriculture as an important source of climate change concern. The Commission indeed estimated that, by 2050, the agricultural sector would generate one third of EU's total GHGs) due to increase in global population and demand for related products. The roadmap, which in no way was meant to represent hard law, encourages the EU (in addition to the present EU's investment of 19% of its GDP in 2009) to dedicate 1.5% of its total GDP to investments, private and public, in low carbon energy sources and low carbon infrastructure. The Commission noted in its roadmap that higher fuel efficiency is a key factor in reversing the process of GHG increases. Therefore, the consumption of sustainable biofuels, especially in the transport sector (primarily aviation and heavy duty trucks) should be prioritized. This strategy would result in lowering Member States' reliance on energy imports and their exposure to oil price instability. The Commission will use this roadmap as a policy document to encourage further international negotiations on a global climate change agreement and to reinforce EU's cooperation with its "Neighbourhood Partners" towards the adoption of initiatives for the promotion of a low carbon economy. The roadmap will also stimulate further dialogue with economic sectors that contribute significantly to GHGs within the EU. We will provide further updates on the Commission's actions as they are available.

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