Commission must not take its eye off the ball for decarbonisation by 2050

(EurActiv, 28 Nov 2018) The European Commission will need clarity, nerve and vision to chart a decarbonisation path to 2050 that addresses the nearly 40% of Europe’s emissions that currently come from buildings, writes Adrian Joyce.

Adrian Joyce is director of the Renovate Europe campaign.

The news that 10 EU member states including France, Italy and Spain are demanding that the European Commission chart a “credible and detailed” path to full decarbonisation by 2050 must have come as a surprise at the Berlaymont.

The letter was a stirring clarion call to action that brooked no misunderstanding: “We encourage the Commission to set a clear direction towards net zero GHG emissions in the EU by 2050,” the energy and environment ministers wrote.

Such a direction would have to involve an emergency scaling down of the nearly 40% of our emissions that currently come from buildings. This would mean a major escalation of current renovation efforts. Yet there are some signs that the European Commission may, as far as buildings are concerned, be proposing something much less ambitious, perhaps even taking its eye off the ball completely.

A leaked staff working document last month suggested that the Commission was only modelling scenarios involving a reduction of final energy consumption of between 18-40% in the residential sector between 2030 and 2050. By 2070, it said, these percentages would only have increased “incrementally”.

The Renovate Europe campaign has called for an 80% cut in energy waste from buildings by 2050 – and that call has been backed by MEPs in the European Parliament. It is the least that we need to do to reach our long-term goals.

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EurActiv, 28 Nov 2018: Commission must not take its eye off the ball for decarbonisation by 2050