Assessment of the EU’s strategic vision “A Clean Planet for All”

The picture shows a modell of the earth in green gras.Click to enlarge
The EU long-term climate strategy forms the basis of EU’s contribution to the Paris Agreement.
Source: Stauke/Fotolia

In 2018, the European Commission published its communication “A clean planet for all”, which calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. A thorough study commissioned by UBA assessing the underlying scenarios for policy making shows, that central aspects for building an adequate ambitious long-term climate strategy, such as socio-economic, fiscal and technological, had been considered.

On 28 November 2018, the European Commission (EU-COM) published the Communication “A clean planet for all”, presenting its analysis of options for long-term climate policy in the European Union (EU). The set of documents formed the basis for discussions in EU institutions, including the European Council, on how to deliver the EU’s formal long-term climate strategy (LTCS) to the United Nations by 2020, as per the Paris Agreement. In the strategic vision, the EU-COM lays out a pathway for a transition to a climate-neutral economy by 2050 - meaning the EU’s net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be zero in that year. The strategic vision is accompanied by an in-depth analysis (IDA) containing a detailed impact assessment based on a scenario analysis. 

The German Envirionment Agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA) has commissioned a study to analyse this KOM-In-depth Analysis of the KOM’s Strategic Vision. The IDA builds on a baseline scenario and eight mitigation scenarios, which meet the EU’s current 2030 targets. Only two of these scenarios (1.5TECH and 1.5LIFE) achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 – the target defined in the strategic vision. In this report, the IDA is analyzed with a view on issues regarding i.e. comprehensiveness, scenario and model suite, techno-logical and economic aspects with a view to its suitability as the analytical input for the Strategic Vision. 

Central findings from a general point of view are: 

  • analytical input covers key aspects for building an adequate LTCS; 
  • scenario analysis covers mitigation pathways for relevant sectors and GHGs;
  • the IDA contains detailed considerations of economic and social implications; 
  • certain findings, i.e. the economic feasibility of a transformation to net-zero GHG emissions are robust due to the variety of models used.

Rather technical findings are:

  • prioritization of measures required in any case or to avoid a lock-in at a lower level of ambition;
  • transparency of data could be improved with regard to acceptability by relevant stakeholders (i.e. discount rates, fuel prices, and output data);
  • Explicitly indication of the trade-off between behavioral changes and higher negative emissions in the two net-zero scenarios;
  • net-zero scenario options could be further elaborated, as no scenario which maximizes the use of Renewable energy resources in order to fully substitute fossil fuels has been explored.  

Finally: Although the IDA serves as a basis for the discussion of a long-term GHG development strategy only for the EU internally, its merit lies in its extensive efforts on assessing the feasibility of net-zero GHG emissions which may be helpful to other countries as well. 


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 climate protection  GHG  Paris Agreement  long-term climate strategy  European Union