Making Horizon Europe a tool to truly achieve the Paris Agreement goals

(EurActiv, 30 Nov 2018) The EU’s Horizon Europe for research and innovation provides an opportunity to unleash the potential of low-carbon technologies that will help Europe in the transition to a carbon neutral economy. This, however, is contingent on its design, writes Agnese Ruggiero.

Agnese Ruggiero is a Policy Officer at Carbon Market Watch, an NGO working on the long-term decarbonisation of Europe.

Three years after the adoption of the Paris Agreement, it has become clear that we are not moving fast enough to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C. According to the recently published IPCC special report, keeping temperature increases at no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels is no longer a safe objective, and could have a devastating impact on communities, economies and ecosystems around the world.

Earlier this week, the European Commission gave a first response to these scientific findings and published a long-term strategy for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.  This strategy recognises that accelerating decarbonisation of resource and energy intensive industries is key, and shows that many technological opportunities exist to do so.

Research and Innovation (R&I) that supports breakthrough technologies plays a crucial role in this transition. According to European Climate Foundation recent report “Net Zero By 2050: From Whether To How”, ‘commercially available solutions can take us about 75% of the way to net-zero, if deployed at scale. The remaining 25% however, can be achieved by innovation in approaches and technologies for which further scaling up and commercialisation is needed’.

Totalling to almost €100 billion for the 2021-2027 period, Horizon Europe is EU’s main R&I public financing tool. It represents an opportunity to strengthen Europe’s innovation capability and plays a crucial role in leveraging additional public and private investments that are essential to fund climate-friendly R&I projects in Europe.

However, in the shaping of Horizon Europe, the current Commission’s proposal falls short on several fronts. The European Parliament and Member States have the opportunity to step in and ensure the potential of Horizon Europe is fully exploited in order for R&I to deliver its crucial contribution to the EU’s long term climate strategy and the transition to net-zero GHG emissions.

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EurActiv, 30 Nov 2018: Making Horizon Europe a tool to truly achieve the Paris Agreement goals