How Europe can Achieve Climate Neutrality as Early as 2045

Sufficiency-based energy scenario "CLEVER" published

  • News 05.06.2023

CLEVER (Collaborative Low Energy Vision for the European Region) is an energy scenario that proposes an ambitious and robust decarbonisation pathway for Europe. It focuses on energy demand reduction through sufficiency and efficiency, together with a 100 per cent renewable mix. The researchers' modelling shows that Europe could be climate-neutral as early as 2045 without energy imports from outside Europe. They presented the core findings today, 5 June 2023, at the CLEVER Scenario Launch Event in Brussels, including:

  • By 2050, Europe's energy demand can be reduced by 55 per cent compared to 2019 levels, with sufficiency as a core enabler.
  • Europe can be fully independent from all forms of energy imports, by 2050.
  • Reducing consumption through sufficiency and efficiency is an enabler for the transformation towards a 100 per cent renewable energy system – and allows greenhouse gas neutrality without speculative negative emissions (e.g. carbon capture and storage, CCS) and new nuclear power plants.

CLEVER is based on the Sufficiency-Efficiency-Renewables (SER) framework: It focuses on the demand-side by scaling energy needs through sufficiency measures, combined with a reduction in energy intensity through efficiency enhancement by technological improvement. Finally, the remaining energy demand is supplied with renewable energies, taking numerous sustainability issues into account, including material consumption. This approach contrasts with the more traditional ones adopted by most scenarios, which prioritise energy supply decarbonisation, then complement it with efficiency, with sufficiency measures sometimes as a last resort.

The SER framework is based on options which are available today at low cost, contrasting with decarbonisation options such as nuclear or CCS, which are not available soon enough and involve risks and public acceptance issues.

The CLEVER partners have developed policy recommendations, especially with regard to the implementation of the 2030 and 2040 targets and the role of sufficiency. According to Dr. Benjamin Best, Senior Researcher in the Structural Change and Innovation Research Unit at the Wuppertal Institute, the policy measures aim at a good life and economy with less energy consumption: "We have used sufficiency policy measures as a basis that can improve the quality of life for many people. A low-car downtown is safer and can prevent many premature deaths through accident avoidance and reduced pollution. Making it easier to move into community housing can reduce feelings of loneliness, especially for older people".

The final report and the executice summary are available free of charge via the download link below.

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