ENERGY : COMMISSION KICKS OFF WORK ON 2050 ROAD MAP.

The European Commission is consulting, until 7 March, on its so-called Energy road map 2050'. Initially, a report will summarise contributions in April. On the basis of this document, the Commission should work towards an Energy road map 2050', to be proposed in the second half of 2011. This latter document will follow the lines of the Road map for a low-carbon economy by 2050', itself due in the first half of this year and set to focus on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across the EU economy. Both strategies, however, adhere to the October 2009 European Council's target of an 80-95% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2050.

Broadly speaking, the Commission's 2050 road map will present different pathways to reach objectives already set or to be set for the energy sector. These notably include greater sustainability, energy security and competitiveness. The Commission talks of the need for a long-term EU approach beyond 2020. Here, the reasoning is that many investments, for instance in power plants and networks, are long term, certainly up to 40 years. Obtaining as much clarity as possible about EU and national policy after 2020 will help investment and also kick-start new technologies.

In its consultation document, the Commission points to EU policy and markets having to allow for a "cost-effective" transition to a low-carbon energy system. This means strategy and ensuing policy decisions having only a reasonable" impact on energy prices. The Commission is currently digesting various scenarios already circulating that generally underline the technical and economic feasibility of the transition. Clearly, though, the reference scenario, with business as usual and a continuation of existing policies, is insufficient. Still, the Commission will stop short of a single prescription on how the EU energy system should best develop between now and 2050.

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The Commission quizzes participants as to tools, models, projections and methods needed to boost the "credibility" of work on 2050 targets. Which global developments, with respect to energy supply and demand as well as climate initiatives, should be considered in the 2050 road map? Where should the EU take a stronger position? Officials also ponder the societal impact to come as a result of changes in the EU and global energy systems.

A further focus in the questionnaire is where additional policy development will be needed at EU level to reach the...

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