The study finds that the EU can go much further than its current commitments in terms of GHG reductions: it has the potential to reach -55% to -62% below 1990 by 2030, consistent with the Paris commitment of staying “well below 2°C, pursuing 1.5°C”. The key to realize these reductions is to apply EU-wide the best practice policies identified in various Member States including The Netherlands, Denmark, UK, Germany and Norway:
- The Power sector has the most potential for additional emission reductions. The first key enabler for this is electrical energy efficiency across the demand side. This could reduce power demand significantly despite the upward pressure from increasing transport and heat electrification. The second key enabling policy is a faster coal exit, which is essential to take away the largest polluting source from the power sector and to make space for additional renewable energy in a demand constrained situation. And finally, due to reductions in technology costs, it is possible to increase investments and deployment rates to the levels required by 2030 by continuing with strong and consistent support policies for RES.
- In Transport the key levers are higher emissions standards and support for the faster penetration of electric vehicles by applying a mix of financial and non-financial support measures.
- In Buildings, the most critical factor is both faster and deeper renovation of existing buildings. Policies in Member States to incentivise energy-related renovations of buildings are diverse, and better coordination of the efforts on the EU level, e.g. through the newly initiated Smart Finance for Smart Buildings Initiative, and roll-out of best practices could significantly increase building renovation.
- For the Industrial sectors, a combination of policies increasing resource efficiency and the circular economy, as well as supporting the shift away from fossil fuel use can lead to much stronger reductions than what current policy can deliver, particularly with a weak Emissions Trading System.
Overall, as a result of the broad application of these best practice policies, energy demand can be reduced by almost -45% below the 2007 baseline, compared to -30% in the Commission’s proposal.
Also, renewable energy sources (RES) increase to 45% of total final energy demand, compared to 27% in the commission’s proposal. The conclusion is that technical issues are not the blocking factor to reach ambitious GHG targets. With sufficient political will, far-reaching policies could be implemented and support the relevant reductions. This is not to say that applying best practice policy across all EU member states will be easy to realise. Spreading best practice to such a degree will have massive challenges, and this should be further explored at Member States level. To some extent the replication of best practice policies could also be realised through EU wide measures. The huge policy challenge however has to be faced in light of the dire consequences of not delivering on the Paris Agreement objectives.