Climate change: investing in low-carbon solutions and adaptation

Posted on 23 April, 2018

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The European Union has put in place ambitious long-term goals on climate change mitigation, namely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 % below 1990 levels by 2050. These goals are to be implemented in steps. Our recent report shows that in 2013 the EU reduced its domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 19 % compared to 1990 levels. The target of a 20 % reduction by 2020 is clearly within reach.

In October, the European Council endorsed EU climate and energy objectives for 2030. These include two binding targets for the EU: by 2030 greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced domestically by at least 40 % compared to 1990 levels, and the share of renewable energy consumed will be at least 27 %. The European Council also set an indicative target of improving energy efficiency by at least 27 % in 2030 compared to projections of ‘business as usual’ energy consumption. In addition, the climate and energy framework listed energy security, internal energy markets, and key infrastructure projects as areas for further action.

Achieving a 40 % emissions reduction by 2030 — and 80-95% reduction by 2050 in particular — will partly depend on the EU’s ability to channel sufficient amounts of public and private funds towards sustainable and innovative technology. Carbon prices and regulations are instrumental in steering investments towards climate-friendly innovations, in particular in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency.In some cases, funding decisions might also entail divesting from some sectors. Europe and the world cannot continue subsidising sustainable solutions while also providing subsidies to unsustainable ones such as fossil fuels. Structural changes to key systems, such as energy and transport, require long-term investments in our infrastructures.