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EU unlikely to hit Paris Agreement target without urgently phasing out fossil fuels

EU unlikely to hit Paris Agreement target without urgently phasing out fossil fuels

21. 03. 2019

Even though the European Union’s climate policies are some of the most aggressive around the globe, EASAC’s latest report finds they are unlikely to deliver emission reductions quickly enough to limit climate warming and meet Paris Agreement targets.

In a new report on transportation and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC), a body that represents the national science academies of the EU, Norway and Switzerland, finds that “current EU policies are unlikely to deliver emission reductions quickly enough to limit climate warming to less than 2°C”. GHG emissions from transportation need to be addressed urgently as they represent 24% of all GHG emissions from the EU. Of this 24%, road transport dominates, making up nearly three-quarters of this total.

One key recommendation from EASAC is that EU policies need to adequately and visibly address the timely phase-out of fossil fuels. Stronger phase‐out policies, regulations and incentives are needed to deliver cost-efficient reductions in GHG emissions from the transport, energy, buildings and industry sectors as they increasingly compete for supplies of low-carbon electricity. International collaboration, new business models and citizen engagement will become more important as falling fossil fuel consumption makes oil and gas prices more volatile.

A huge gap exists between the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions projected in the 2016 EU Reference Scenario and the level of emissions needed to limit global warming to less than 2°C or even further to 1.5°C as noted in IPCC’s recent special report. This gap points to the need for urgent action.

“We are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement targets. However, we’re optimistic that the current dire situation can be turned around if policy-makers put coordinated ‘avoid, shift and improve’ measures into place quickly. EASAC’s report urges policy-makers to curb demand for inefficient passenger and freight transport, oversized vehicles and aviation, to promote healthy walking and cycling in urban areas, to phase out fossil fuels and produce more low-carbon electricity, to incentivise low-emission vehicles and fuels, and to invest in energy infrastructure and high-quality public transport”, said Dr William Gillett, Director of Energy at EASAC.
 

Top changes policy-makers need to make

Avoid

  1. Contain the demand for conventional motorised transport, and reverse EU policy that “curbing mobility is not an option”.

Shift

  1. Shift passengers from private cars to public transport services (trains, buses, trams, etc).
  2. Shift more freight off the road and onto railways or waterways.

Improve

  1. Introduce regulations during the transition period to decrease consumer demand for oversized vehicles and oversized engines.
  2. Reduce the average emissions of all passenger cars and light duty vehicles during the next 10 to 15 years – a crucial transition period.
  3. Increase the rate of market penetration of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for passenger transport as soon as possible.
  4. Increase the penetration rate of low-carbon electricity generation into the grid urgently.
  5. Adapt the design and regulation of electricity markets and tariffs that apply to electric vehicles, so that costs are minimised for all consumers.
  6. Simplify guidance on use of biofuels, biogas, natural gas and methane for transport.
  7. Increase resources for the development of technologies for producing synthetic fuels.
  8. Increase the levels of investments in information and communication technologies and autonomous vehicles.
  9. Strengthen preparations for long term emission reductions by making long term policy commitments to invest in interdisciplinary research, innovation, jobs and skills.

 
About the European Academies’ Science Advisory Council (EASAC)

EASAC is formed by the national science academies of the EU Member States, Norway and Switzerland, to collaborate in giving advice to European policy-makers. EASAC provides a means for the collective voice of European science to be heard. Through EASAC, the academies work together to provide independent, expert, evidence-based advice about the scientific aspects of European policies to those who make or influence policy within the European institutions.
 

Prepared by: EASAC
Photo: iStock – Pawel Czaja