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Future climate and energy policy – a Strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reductions

Climate change is happening and without further global action to mitigate it, temperatures will rise within this century well beyond a 2°Celsius compared to pre-industrial times. This will have major impacts on our economies and societies. In order to prevent this, 178 global partners cooperating under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have ratified the Paris Agreement that calls upon all countries to keep global temperature increase to well below 2°C, and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Parties to the Paris Agreement are to communicate by 2020 their long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

In March, the European Council invited the Commission to present a proposal for a strategy for long-term EU greenhouse gas emissions reductions in accordance with the Paris Agreement, taking into account the national plans. The European Parliament made a similar request.

The EU is on track to achieve its 2020 targets and is currently putting in place policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% in 2030 and achieve high level of ambition in energy efficiency and renewable energy (the so called energy and climate framework for 2030). The policies, legislative instruments and support programmes from the European budget will put the EU on a trajectory compatible with the Paris Agreement, but further measures are needed for the time after 2030.

The EU has currently an objective in the context of necessary reductions by developed countries as a group, to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

Delivering the Paris Agreement will require a worldwide transition towards a global economy that will not further affect the climate in the second half of the century.

To pursue these latter objectives, the EU’s long term strategy should put forward a vision for the midcentury and how the European Union can help protect the planet, defend its people and empower its economy. The EU’s new long term strategy should describe economy-wide pathways with various options for decarbonisation and their implications on technology choices and socioeconomic factors.

The strategy will reflect on a long-term vision of a modern European economy working for all Europeans.  Studies and stakeholder input will contribute to the formulation of this vision and help explain the choices to be made. The strategy should reflect on the essential opportunities and challenges stemming from the long-term decarbonisation and clean energy transition of the EU:

  • modernising the economy;
  • improving citizens’ quality of life;
  • ensuring fair transition and tackling social challenges;
  • reindustrialising Europe through digital, circular and low carbon innovation and clean mobility;
  • promoting free, fair and sustainable global competition for markets, trade and investments;
  • and maintaining the EU’s global leadership position on key geostrategic and security issues.

The strategy will analyse cost-efficient scenarios towards decarbonisation in line with the Paris Agreement underpinned by holistic analysis of transition options across all key sectors of the economy. This includes
a wide variety of sectors, starting with the central role of energy, buildings, transport and mobility, industrial production and the provision of services, waste, agriculture and land-use, as well as the use of natural resources. It will examine the potential and implications of the deployment of innovative technologies, sectoral integration, and of facilitating alternative choices for consumers. It will examine implications for security of supply, investments, competitiveness and socio-economic factors, such as economic growth and job creation, also considering the impacts on citizens, businesses. Regions that stand to be negatively affected by decarbonisation should be supported making this transition just and socially fair.

The visions and reflections of stakeholders involved from all sectors of the economy and society on how to reach the EU’s ambition will be an important input into this process. Therefore, the European Commission is very much interested in your views on a strategy for long-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions for the European Union. Please take a moment to fill in our questionnaire. We welcome contributions from the general public, stakeholders and authorities alike. Your views will help to enrich our assessment of what the EU should do in order to meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement.

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