In order to meet emissions goals set by the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, electricity must cover 60% or more of the European Union’s final energy consumption, according to a new report.
The report, released by the European power sector’s trade body, Eurelectric, found that nearly two-thirds of the European Union’s transport and buildings and half of industrial processes must be powered by electricity in order to meet emissions targets.
The European Union seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% compared to 1990s levels by 2050, with 40% reductions achieved by 2030. The targets are some of the “most ambitious carbon emission reduction goals” under the Paris Agreement, reports Forbes.
Although many agree on the outcomes of the EU’s long-term climate strategy, various sectors within Europe seem to have different ideas about the best way to reach the bloc’s climate goals. As Forbes reports, some are lobbying for a transition to renewables accompanied by a total phase-out of fossil fuels, while others are pushing for a switch to nuclear energy.
Eurelectric argues, however, that “electrification is the most direct, effective and efficient way” for the EU to reach its decarbonisation goals. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95%, the EU must increase electricity use by 1.5% year-on-year, while also reducing energy consumption within the bloc by 1.3% per year, according to the report.
The transition will not come without challenges: “Deep decarbonisation will require unprecedented efforts,” Kristian Ruby, secretary general of Eurelectric said in a statement. “Political focus on shaping a fair transition and leaving room for regional nuances will be key to success.”
The report emphasises that EU countries will require distinct approaches to achieve emissions reduction goals due to their “different starting points,” including current energy mix, industrial activities and economic factors. For example, for deep decarbonisation to be successful in Central and Eastern European countries with a large share of coal in their energy mix, the report states that key transition technologies must be commercially available.
Eurelectric based the new report on consultations with EU industry representatives and electricity companies, with analytical support provided by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. The findings were presented on Monday at a press conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
The trade body, which represents 3500 companies in Europe, said it plans to follow up on the report with a series of detailed plans to help the EU’s power sector become fully carbon neutral “well before 2050.” In December, Eurelectric committed to “work for an accelerated energy transition” to help the European power sector achieve complete carbon neutrality by this time.