Can the European Green Deal drive us towards a Low Emission Society?
Unpacking emission and sustainable transformation pathways and its social and economic implications at a European and Member State scale – Insights from the COP21 RIPPLES and EUCalc Horizon 2020 projects.
Thursday, 30 January 2020, 9.45 – 16.00 (registration at 9.00)
Where: EASME, Covent Garden Building, Place Rogier 16, Brussels, Room COV2 25/SDR1 Auditorium Nowotny
The Policy Dialogue was aimed at a broad cross section of policy players including academics, relevant commision officials/experts and other decision makers, interested in the contribution of the European Union in reaching the Paris Agreement and discussing various possible pathways and potential trade-offs in relation to the long-term strategies (LTS) and the potential linkage to the Green Deal.
The European Green Deal presented on 11 December 2019 intends to be a roadmap for implementing,in all sectors, EU’s ambitious climate strategy. Its strong political backing, the endorsement of the climate neutrality target in 2050 and the intention to raise EU’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement in 2020 – from 40% to 50-55% GHG emissions reduction by 2030 compared to 1990 levels – a signal to the rest of the world that Europe intends to play its part in the fight against climate change. The COP25 outcome points out to the need for building up international conditions that facilitate ambitious targets by other countries – namely by large emerging economies – along with the need for reinforced domestic ambition to be matched with an effective and adequate implementation. Filling this gap can position the EU as an environmental leader of the ecological transition.
Domestically, the Green Deal is expected to cover a broad range of policies to guide structural investment in technologies and jobs compatible with a climate neutral economy, especially in industry, transport and agriculture. Details of the sectoral legislation files will be progressively unveiled throughout 2020 and 2021. To assess the progress and effectiveness of these sectoral policies against the overall objectives of the European Green Deal (carbon neutrality in 2050, but also the protection of biodiversity) will therefore become a pressing necessity in the months and years to come. Against this background, the definition and adoption of an adequate framework capable of evaluating these policies against EU environmental objectives can ease the implementation of the European Green Deal and should be a priority for the new Commission.
The two Horizon 2020 projects COP21 RIPPLES and EUCalc have contributed to the analysis of possible pathways for a technological and societal transformation in order to reach a carbon neutral Europe mindful of global dynamics. The contribution of these projects goes beyond pathway development. The focus is on providing granular understanding and means for engagement by diverse European and national policy makers, businesses, NGOs and other actors of society. This is achieved by creating tools fitting this purpose, embracing interdisciplinary approaches, and combining analysis of the evolution of the international climate regime as well as of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and their socio-economic implications.
COP21 RIPPLES research has found that gaps and opportunities exist for different dimensions (economic and social, governance) but often the focus is solely on emissions. From an environmental viewpoint, the gap on emissions is not the only, effective marker of the insufficiency of climate policies. From a transition point of view (economy and social dimension, and political dimension that comes with it – willingness, consensus, confidence) there are other markers that help us understand where and why the transition is – or is not – underway. We argue that only comprehensive approaches that address all of them, taking into account its interrelationships, have the likelihood to keep the 1.5°C within reach. Rather than overcomplicating things, a more textured response, embedded in the realities of the different geographies and for each of the sectors, while making the best of international cooperation, will facilitate the design of possible new avenues to make a more rapid and effective transition (from an environmental perspective) possible.
EUCalc provides decision-makers with a highly accessible, user-friendly, dynamic modelling solution to quantify the sectoral energy demand, greenhouse gas (GHG) trajectories and social implications of lifestyles and energy technology choices in Europe. It fills the gap between integrated climate-energy-economy models and the practical needs of decision-makers. This novel and pragmatic modelling approach is rooted between pure complex energy system and emissions models and integrated impact assessment tools. It introduces an intermediate level of complexity and a multi-sector approach that is based on co-design with scientific and societal actors.
With the help of the Transition Pathways Explorer and related e-learning tools, users are able to create own pathways for Europe and experience the impact of the choices they made – for example they can proof ideas or influence of single political decisions.
Objectives of the Policy Dialogue
The event aimed at investigating main gaps and opportunities in the context of the European Green Deal to enhance EU policy-making towards a Paris Agreement-compatible world. Based on these two research projects outcomes, it was discussed on how the EU could strengthen its domestic and international efforts for a fair and effective transition towards carbon neutrality, in practice.