Aalto University: European energy transition needs to accelerate urgently

There are many possible pathways towards a carbon-neutral future — and achieving it by 2050 is possible but requires urgent action. This is the conclusion of a group of top scientists tasked by the European Commission with advising on how to facilitate the energy transition in Europe. Nature journal also noted this at the end of August.

The recently published report takes a multidisciplinary and systemic approach and provides evidence-based observations for achieving the EU’s emission targets by bringing the best and newest scientific knowledge into policymaking, says Professor Emeritus Antonio Loprieno, who is also president of ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, and of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

The experts of European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism underline in their report that the energy transition is far from a purely technical challenge. To make the transition a reality, a huge systemic problem needs to be solved, coordinating countless individual voluntary decisions on investment, consumption and behaviour across Europe.

“The report does not recommend an unequivocal policy package for Europe, but rather a set of policy options addressing various important facets of the overall challenge of the energy transition to reach carbon neutrality,” says Professor Peter Lund from Aalto University, chair of the Science Advice for Policy by European Academies energy project.

“However, as a central conclusion, any successful policy must involve a carbon pricing mechanism, in both the EU Emissions Trading System and Effort Sharing Regulation sectors, that delivers a sufficiently high carbon price while putting the pricing in a socially just frame.”

“Achieving the full decarbonisation of the EU energy system by mid-century is possible, but it requires urgent and decisive action to integrate emissions-free energy sources and uses in a flexible way, creating a participatory environment that supports clean energy choices, and using the right combination of regulatory instruments are necessary steps to make this transition efficient, inclusive and fair,” says Professor Emeritus Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Chair of European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

This means transforming the entire European energy system — a change which will affect every part of our society and require huge investment during the transition. It must be done in a socially equitable way. And the progress needs to be accelerated to be able to achieve the EU’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

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