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Reducing greenhouse gases: a roadmap for 2050

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Reducing greenhouse gases: a roadmap for 2050

The Commission presents the key steps aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union by 2050. A cost-effective and gradual transition towards a low carbon economy should take place through energy efficiency, innovation and an increase in investments.


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 8 March 2011 – A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 [COM(2011) 112 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The European Union (EU) is adopting a roadmap for the gradual reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). The EU is to become a competitive low carbon economy.

The EU is therefore committed to:

  • reducing its domestic GHG emissions by at least 20 % by 2020;
  • increasing the share of renewables in its energy mix to 20 %;
  • achieving energy efficiency of 20 % by 2020.

Moreover, the EU should prepare for reductions in its domestic GHG emissions by 40 % by 2030, and by 80 % by 2050. These emission levels are calculated with respect to 1990 levels.

Innovating to improve energy efficiency

This roadmap must be accompanied by sectoral strategies fostering technological innovation. Such sectoral strategies should concern, in particular:

  • the electricity sector, making it safer, more competitive and eliminating carbon emissions. Electricity supply should be more diversified, in particular by making use of photovoltaics;
  • sustainable mobility, particularly through the optimal use of transport networks, vehicle energy efficiency, electrification and clean fuels, including for aviation;
  • the construction sector, by improving the energy performance of buildings in order to achieve a GHG reduction of 90 % in 2050 for this sector;
  • industry, including energy intensive industries. Emissions in this sector could be reduced from 83 to 87 % in 2050 through innovations in the use of resources, recycling or large-scale carbon capture;
  • agriculture, to achieve sustainable land use and emission reductions, particularly through soil and manure management, the efficient use of fertilisers, diversification and the commercialisation of local production, as well as extensive farming.

Investing in a low carbon future

The development of low carbon energy sources must be based on sustainable and diversified financial investments. An increase in capital should enable the following to take place:

  • development of basic infrastructures, networks, and information and communication technologies;
  • diversification of domestic energy resources and a reduction in the EU’s dependence on fossil fuel imports;
  • development of sectors generating employment, and the training of workers, in particular in renewable energies, construction and new technologies;
  • improvements in air quality, by monitoring and gradually reducing air pollutants.

International cooperation

Scientific knowledge establishes that a reduction in global GHG emissions of 50 % by 2050 may avoid a temperature increase of 2° C.

The EU, whose emissions represent approximately 10 % of global GHG, therefore undertakes to intensify its bilateral and multilateral cooperation to promote the tackling of climate change. Its action should in particular contribute to innovation, energy security and competitiveness in the key sectors of growth and development.


This roadmap takes into account the objectives of the SET-Plan for the development of low carbon technologies, and the EU emission allowance trading scheme (ETS).

The roadmap is also in line with the strategy for new skills and employment and the Flagship Initiative for the efficient use of resources under the Europe 2020 Agenda.

See also

Last updated: 29.04.2011