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Moving towards a low-carbon economy in 2050



Communication (COM(2011) 112 final) — A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050


  • It presents a roadmap up to 2050 of the various ways the EU’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target can be achieved.
  • It contains target milestones to show the extent to which the EU will be on course to create a low-carbon economy.
  • It sets out policy challenges, investment needs and the role different sectors should play.


The European Commission’s analysis suggests that the most cost-effective way of reaching the overall target is to reduce domestic emissions by 40 % and 60 % for 2030 and 2040 respectively, from 1990 levels.

All sectors will have to contribute to the low-carbon transition and the 2050 roadmap sets out the contributions of different sectors:

  • the power sector can almost totally eliminate CO2 emissions by 2050, especially by producing electricity from renewable sources using existing and more advanced technologies;
  • transport could reduce emissions by more than 60 % by becoming more sustainable through greater vehicle efficiency, electric vehicles and cleaner energy;
  • buildings can reduce their current emissions by around 90 % via energy efficiency improvements;
  • industry can cut its GHG emissions by more than 80 % through more efficient processes, energy efficiency, recycling and new technologies;
  • Although by 2050 it is projected to represent a third of total EU emissions, agriculture can reduce emissions by 42–49 % through a range of new techniques, including a healthier diet with less meat.

Achieving these targets will require major public and private investment over the next four decades. The communication estimates this could amount to an additional investment for the whole EU of around €270 billion annually, or 1.5 % of EU GDP.

However, the potential benefits, in addition to tackling climate change and using resources more efficiently are immense. The package of measures could:

  • cut the EU’s annual average energy costs by €175–320 billion;
  • reduce the EU’s dependency on imported fossil fuels;
  • stimulate a structural change in the EU economy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs;
  • improve air quality to the benefit of the health of EU citizens.


To keep global climate change below 2 oC — the internationally agreed target to prevent the catastrophic consequences of global warming — the EU is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80–95 % by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

For more information, see:


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions — A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112 final, 8.3.2011)

last update 03.08.2016