The European continent has not only embraced renewable energy, but it is determined to exceed all emissions goals it is faced with. Not content with decimating its 2012 targets and being on track to more than meet its 2020 goals, the EU is now aiming to cut total emissions by 80% by 2050. Recently the European Commission formally announced a roadmap plan to transform the EU into a “competitive low carbon economy” by 2050. Although the continent is aiming to reduce emissions by 80%, this is actually just their minimum aim — the roadmap lays out plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95%.
Photo © Taco Witte
The 20/20/20 plan called for a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, a 20 percent cut in energy consumption, and a 20 percent increase in the use of renewable energy by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. It looks like the EU will be able to easily meet these goals, so they have set their sights higher — but how will they aim to do this?
While the adoption of renewable energy has been embraced throughout Europe, there is one target which the EU has not been so quick to meet – efficiency. Currently, the EU is only halfway to their goal of making more efficient appliances and insulation. Efficiency is one of the easiest ways to reduce carbon emissions, so the plan will see more focus put on this target. At the moment, the UK is the only country that has reduced their energy usage (by 5% – go Britannia), where as Germany and France’s energy use has either stayed the same or increased. However the Germans already have efficient housing, whereas the UK has a lot to improve upon.
Chris Huhne, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change Secretary, has said of the plan: “The 2050 Low Carbon Roadmap must be a first step towards Europe setting a clear, cost-effective and ambitious plan to decarbonise its economy. We need a pathway that stimulates jobs and growth as well as reduces Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from other countries.” “The roadmap shows that Europe’s current 20% target for 2020 isn’t enough or cost effective and shows that Europe’s already got the policies and the tools to cut emissions by 25% at home. This makes the case for going to 30% stronger and more urgent.”
If this target is met, the European Commission believes that by 2050 the continent will have a low-carbon economy with the majority of the population living and working in low-energy and low-emission buildings. Intelligent heating and cooling systems will be more common, as will electric and hybrid cars. Smart cities will also see less air pollution and better public transport. It will also aid the economy with clean technologies and energy providing up to 1.5 million jobs by 2020.
Of course there is a catch, and for the continent, it’s the cost — the roadmap states that EU governments will need to invest 270 billion euros a year, on average, over the next four decades to meet this goal. However during this time, the average savings will be greater than the investment, saving 320 billion euros every year.
Seems like a win-win situation, no?
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