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Business as usual sees EU miss 2050 GHG targets


According to a recent report on EU Energy, Transport and GHG Emission Trends to 2050, based on existing policies, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will fall by 24% in 2020 compared to 1990, further decreasing to 32% below the 1990 level in 2030 and by 44% in 2050. Although a significant drop, this decrease still falls considerably short of the 80% cut in emissions set out in the European Commission’s Roadmap for Moving to a Competitive Low-carbon Economy in 2050.

According to the report from the European Commission, the portfolio of policies and binding targets that have been adopted so far in the EU are expected to bring about considerable changes in the energy system relative to past trends. Overall, despite significant economic growth making the EU economy 78% larger in 2050 than it was in 2010, there will be a decline in total energy consumption by 8%.

Nevertheless, some commentators insist that this will not be enough. “This trend shows the nonsense of pursuing only a business-as-usual scenario and underlines the need for coherent long-term policy development over the period to 2050,” Adrian Joyce, the secretary-general of the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency in Buildings (EuroACE) said, adding that failure to put greater effort into cost-effective energy efficiency improvements would be particularly myopic in the current economic climate.

According to the report, GHG reduction is progressing in all sectors, with decarbonisation particularly strong in power generation, reflecting synergies from replacing CO2 emitting fossil fuels with electricity which, in turn, is generated using low-carbon technologies. Indeed, the main characteristic of the future EU energy system is a significant reduction in the carbon intensity of power generation.

"With the EU's power sector expected to be still pumping out almost 400 million tonnes of CO2 annually by 2050, and the EU in an even worse energy security situation, an ambitious 2030 climate and energy framework, with targets for renewable energy and GHG reductions, is more critical than ever. Without such targets energy security and a zero-carbon power sector will be impossible," said European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) Deputy CEO Justin Wilkes in a statement on the association’s website.

According to the statement, the scenario in the European Commission report shows that even under current trends and policies, more wind power capacity will be installed over the next 20 years than any other generating technology - accounting for 37% of new installations - with the result that wind energy will be the leading generating technology in Europe by 2040. However, Wilkes noted that a sharp decline in new wind power installations from 2021 onwards highlights the vital importance of a long-term stable regulatory framework for the sector, underpinned by a 2030 renewable energy target.

The Trends to 2050 report notes that the intense deployment of RES, following investment to achieve the 2020 targets, is resulting in a sizeable decrease in external energy dependence. In the long run, however, the limited availability of indigenous fossil fuel resources as well as limited additional biomass imports will lead to total net energy imports increasing again after 2035.

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