The EU’s flagship European Green Deal aims to make Europe climate-neutral by 2050. This goal is often described as ‘ambitious’—and it is ambitious compared with the situation today.
Compared with what we can achieve, however, we can afford to be considerably more ambitious. This has been demonstrated via a modelling exercise led by civil society, namely the European Environmental Bureau and the Climate Action Network.
It finds that the EU can achieve climate neutrality by 2040—10 years earlier than agreed by governments and institutions. It also finds that the bloc can cut emissions by 65 per cent by 2030, as opposed to the current EU target of 40 per cent.
This is good news for our overheating planet. Accelerating climate action in this way would bring the EU in line with its commitments under the Paris Agreement and recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which emphasises the urgent need to halt climate change at 1.5C or lower to avoid catastrophic consequences for humanity, nature and the planet.
The scenario we have produced is the first based entirely on renewables to be developed by civil-society organisations in co-operation with grid operators, industry representatives, economists and researchers. It was created in the context of the ‘Paris Agreement-compatible scenarios for energy infrastructure’ project.
This corresponds with demands from some EU member states. Earlier this year, the governments of Austria, Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Spain called on the European Commission to include a 100 per cent renewable energy scenario in long-term climate projections.
But how would this work?
With the right policies in place, renewables, from solar and wind power to green hydrogen, could account for half of EU final energy consumption in 2030 and 100 per cent in 2040.