European Commission presents plan for EU carbon neutrality by 2050

In an attempt to increase climate change ambition in accordance with the Paris Agreement, the European Commission has published its plan for the European Union to become carbon neutral by 2050.

‘A Clean Planet for all’ establishes a long-term strategic vision for decarbonisation in Europe. It outlines eight scenarios for Member States to cut emissions, two of which lead to climate neutrality.

The plan highlights seven strategic priorities for achieving a net-zero emission scenario. These include the three Interreg Europe low carbon economy thematic areas of energy efficiency, renewables, and mobility, as well as: competitive industry and circular economy; infrastructure and interconnections; bio-economy and natural carbon sinks and; carbon capture and storage.

Energy Efficiency including zero emission buildings

The plan foresees energy efficiency in buildings playing a key role in decarbonisation. Better building insulation and other measures to improve the housing stock on a much larger scale than today will help reduce energy used for heating. More efficient products and appliances, deployment of smart management systems and consumer behaviour will further reduce energy demand, whilst almost all homes will need to switch to renewable heating. As 80% of the 2050 building stock exists today, consistent and ambitious policies will be necessary to stimulate renovation and mobilise all actors.

Deployment of renewables

All scenarios assessed in the strategy imply that, by mid-century, primary energy supply will largely come from renewable energy sources. It is expected that, by 2050, more than 80% of electricity will be renewable, with production increasingly located offshore. To achieve this scenario, electricity production will have to increase substantially, up to 2.5 times today's levels. The energy transition will give an important role to consumers that produce energy themselves (prosumers), and local communities.

Clean, safe and connected mobility

The first target in the decarbonisation of transport will be the development and deployment of zero and low emission vehicle technologies, such as electric vehicles. These vehicles will become competitive thanks to more efficient and sustainable batteries and highly efficient electric powertrains. The plan recognises that electrification is not a silver bullet, however. Hydrogen-based technologies and advanced biofuels will also play a role, especially for transport modes less suited to electrification such as aviation, long distance shipping and heavy-duty vehicles. The plan specifically mentions Mobility as a Service (MaaS), vehicle sharing and clean public transport as methods necessary to decarbonise transport in urban areas.

Role of regions 

The plan urges the EU to “capitalise on and expand the role of regions, cities and towns”, and praises collaborative platforms that allow local authorities to learn from one another, mentioning the Covenant of Mayors in particular. Many regional and local authorities are already drawing up their own vision for 2050, which will “enrich the debate and contribute to defining Europe’s answer to the global challenge of climate change”. 

In the first half of 2019, the European Commission will consult on their ‘A Clean Planet for all’ strategy with national, regional and local authorities, as well as business, non-governmental organisations and citizens. This EU-wide debate will enable the EU to adopt and submit an ambitious strategy by early 2020 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as requested under the Paris Agreement.


Read the full ‘A Clean Planet for all’ strategy document here.