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About this book

The authors examine how far internal policies in the European Union move towards the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 80-95 per cent by 2050, and how or whether the EU's 2050 objective to 'decarbonise' could affect the EU's relations with a number of external energy partners.

Table of Contents


1. Decarbonization in the EU: Setting the Scene

Climate change is a challenge that requires long-term, cross-sectoral and cross-border action. It is often described as one of the most complex problems facing humankind — one that affects the entire planet and all aspects of modern society (Haug et al., 2010). The European Union (EU) is not immune to the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change. Human-induced climate change is caused by the emission of potent and long-lived greenhouse gases (GHGs), which has increased since pre-industrial times (IPCC, 2013). Reducing GHG emissions quickly enough to a level that will prevent ‘dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system’ (UNFCCC, Article 2) means transforming our infrastructure, energy, transport, agriculture and industrial sectors away from fossil fuels.
Claire Dupont, Sebastian Oberthür

2. The EU Internal Energy Market and Decarbonization

This chapter focuses on the internal energy market development as an important tool to reach the decarbonization objectives agreed by the European Council in 2009 and anchored in the 2050 Energy Roadmap (see Chapter 1). The EU internal energy market constitutes the integration of EU member states’ gas and electricity markets into one single market based on the free movement of goods, services, capital and persons. It aims to create free and fair competition in the energy sector, in which consumers (both industrial and household) can freely choose their supplier, and suppliers can provide gas and electricity without any restrictions across borders. Apart from this freedom of choice, fair competition would also require harmonized national regulations and market structures that are free from dominant players (Eikeland, 2011, p. 15). Since natural gas is a fossil fuel that emits greenhouse gases, it is not easily compatible with achieving EU long-term decarbonization objectives (Dupont & Oberthür, 2012; see also Chapter 9). For this reason, the chapter focuses on the EU electricity market and its role in attaining EU climate policy goals for 2050.
Radostina Primova

3. The Power Sector: Pioneer and Workhorse of Decarbonization

In 2012, fossil fuels made up 49 per cent of total gross electricity generation in the EU-28 (Eurostat, 2014). This electricity generation was responsible for more than one-quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (EEA, 2014).
Stefan Lechtenböhmer, Sascha Samadi

4. Electricity Grids: No Decarbonization without Infrastructure

This chapter discusses the role of electricity transmission infrastructure for the integration of renewables into the European power system in the context of the EU’s decarbonization goals. Conventional plants largely define today’s power system, including its technical and economic environment. The integration of renewables into this system constitutes a major challenge that needs to be addressed for successful decarbonization. On the basis of current technologies, the European power system has to be significantly adjusted in order to absorb increasing amounts of renewable energy (RE). A major part of the necessary adjustments concerns the power transmission infrastructure — or grid.
Thomas Sattich

5. Decarbonizing Industry in the EU: Climate, Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies

Decarbonizing society poses both threats and opportunities for the manufacturing industry. For the industry that manufactures end-user products, decarbonization presents a potential to innovate higher added value clean-tech products and to expand into new ‘green’ markets. For the energy intensive industry (EII), that produces mainly basic materials such as steel, cement, aluminium and basic plastics, the opportunities are less obvious and the challenges greater.
Max Åhman, Lars J. Nilsson

6. Transport: Addicted to Oil

Transport fulfils a crucial role for both economic and social development, since it enables people and goods to move from one place to another. Globalization and technological innovation have led to a drastic increase in national and international freight and passenger transport and consequently also in transport-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In this chapter, we first discuss the historical developments in transport in the EU, the sector’s potential role in decarbonization and the current EU policies with regard to decarbonization in the transport sector. Second, we identify a number of policy gaps, since current policies are most likely insufficient to achieve the targeted decarbonization in the transport sector by 2050. Third, we analyse the drivers and barriers to achieving the transport-sector reduction targets focusing on functional overlap, political will, societal backing and institutional set-up.
Tom van Lier, Cathy Macharis

7. Buildings: Good Intentions Unfulfilled

The European building stock consumes about 40 per cent of final energy in the EU and is responsible for about half of the CO2 emissions not covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (BPIE, 2011; European Commission, 2013). Reducing buildings’ energy consumption reduces demand for fossil fuel-generated energy, thus contributing to a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and to the achievement of decarbonization.
Elin Lerum Boasson, Claire Dupont

8. The Geopolitics of the EU’s Decarbonization Strategy: A Bird’s Eye Perspective

In the twenty-first century, there has been a strong tendency to look at international energy relations in terms of geopolitical power. Control over energy resources or pipelines is seen as a significant geopolitical asset. In this context, the EU plays a peculiar role as a major energy consumer but marginal producer, rendering it dependent on imports. With an ambitious decarbonization objective set for 2050, however, the EU’s position and that of its energy suppliers is bound to change. But how? At first sight, if we copy today’s dominant images of control over resources, the answer may seem obvious. Countries with many hours of sun, abundant wind, hydropower or biomass could be expected to grow stronger, and traditional suppliers of oil and gas relatively weaker. The reality is far more complex and outcomes are dependent on a wide variety of factors, from commercial choices to technological developments. Even more, the question of geopolitics is not purely a matter of facts and data. It is equally a matter of perception, of framing developments on regional and global energy markets in a wider context.
Tom Casier

9. Decarbonization and EU Relations with the Caspian Sea Region

In this chapter, I explore the potential consequences and opportunities presented by the EU’s commitment to decarbonize the energy sector for external relations with two countries in the Caspian Sea region — Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. These relations are particularly embedded in energy relations and EU ambitions to access Caspian natural gas reserves.
Claire Dupont

10. Evolutions and Revolutions in EU-Russia Energy Relations

Historically, EU-Russia energy trade has focused on hydrocarbons, and despite the high levels of interdependence, relations have become increasingly politicized and, arguably, securitized in the 2000s. This is due to the disruptions of Russian gas supplies in 2006 and 2009 and the Ukraine crisis in 2013/2014 contributing to concerns about security of Russian energy supplies and EU demand (specifically regarding gas) and the interdependence of the energy trade between the EU and Russia.
Olga Khrushcheva, Tomas Maltby

11. EU-Norway Energy Relations towards 2050: From Fossil Fuels to Low-Carbon Opportunities?

The European Union (EU) has promoted ambitious energy and climate policies, particularly since 2008, aiming for progressive decarbonization towards 2050. Norway is the EU’s second most important energy partner, behind mighty (and occasionally controversial) Russia. More than 30 per cent of the gas imported by Germany, France and the United Kingdom comes from Norway, and new power cables will strengthen the already important electricity trade between Norway and EU member states. Norway shares the overall climate ambitions of the EU and policymakers on both sides have cooperated closely to structure their energy interfaces so as to facilitate decarbonization.
Torbjørg Jevnaker, Leiv Lunde, Jon Birger Skjærseth

12. Conclusions: Lessons Learned

In this volume, we explored the implications of the EU’s objective to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80–95 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels, on internal and external EU policies and strategies. The GHG emission reduction goal was agreed at the political level by the European Council of heads of state and government of EU member states in October 2009 (European Council, 2009). The societal transformation implied in such a goal is summed up in the term ‘decarbonization’. Aiming for decarbonization responds to calls from the global scientific community (most notably expressed through the periodic reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to reduce dramatically our GHG emissions as soon as possible to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences of human-induced climate change (IPCC, 2013). All contributors to this book approached their particular topic with the decarbonization goal as the main point of reference of their analysis.
Claire Dupont, Sebastian Oberthür


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