Pathways

Narratives and main assumptions of the three EU Transition Pathways formulated in REEEM:

Coalitions for a low-carbon path

This pathway was agreed upon as a useful base case for REEEM by the participants of the First Stakeholder Workshop held on October 6th in Brussels. The pathway narrative resembles features of the current EU context and one likely future course it could take.

In this narrative, economic growth in the EU restarts after the financial crisis, but at different speeds. Affinity on trade, labour, defence and energy security policy arises between groups of countries, depending on their geographic location, economy and domestic availability of resources. Despite the common general ambition to fulfil the Energy Union Strategy and the Paris Agreement, coalitions of more and less willing Member States emerge, setting more and less ambitious decarbonisation targets, respectively. A similar pattern is identifiable outside Europe, where countries being most affected by climate change extremes and/or having the means take on more climate change mitigation actions than others.

Even though the effects of climate change are also observed in Europe (especially with Southern regions becoming on average warmer and drier), consumers do not perceive it as likely to affect their lives significantly. Therefore, they mostly hold on to their current consumption behaviours and transition very slowly to more energy efficient end-use appliances. This, in turn, forces suppliers to take up larger part of the decarbonisation effort. This narrative resembles characteristics of two of the five scenarios described in the ‘White paper on the future of Europe’ discussed by President Jean-Claude Juncker at the State of the Union 2017: ‘Carrying on’ and ‘Those who want more do more’.

The narrative is broken down in dimensions and summarised in the following table.

Local solutions

This future was first discussed at a scenario workshop in Brussels on October 6th 2017 as an interesting scenario narrative to explore in the context of the REEEM project. The pathway narrative is one where the transition is enabled and accelerated by communities and households proactively making choices that are low carbon, such as on mobility (purchases of electric vehicles, reducing flying for business and leisure, more active travel), and on household energy provision (a move from consumer to prosumer, stronger efforts to retrofit homes, purchasing of energy efficient (and smart appliances).

This societal push is underpinned by a recognition of increasing and stronger climate signals, both within and outside of Europe. This includes more pronounced and frequent flooding events in Europe, particularly in the winter, and longer and more extreme hot spells during the summer months, leading to wild fires, water shortages and heat-related health impacts. These events also disrupt the agricultural sector, leading to increased food prices. Outside of Europe, increased reporting of climate change related impacts raises awareness, as do climate-related migration events, already a critical issue for the political classes to deal with across many member states.

The pace of change both in the demand for low carbon goods and business response to meeting that demand (in terms of market in goods and financing) leaves decision makers lagging behind in their policy efforts to drive the transition. This lag is particularly evident out to 2030 due to the initial rapid rate of change; however, policy in the longer term is still needed to address hard-to-mitigate sectors and those emissions that are not connected directly with householder choices.

The future for the Local Solutions Pathway is marked in yellow in the following matrix of dimensions and states. For further explanation of what a matrix of dimensions and states represents and how it is used in REEEM, please refer to REEEM D1.1.

Paris Agreement

This pathway was first discussed at the REEEM GA in Zagreb 14-15 May 2018 as an important future to explore in the context of the REEEM project. The pathway narrative is one where:

      • The EU countries agree to act and take the lead in reaching the targets in the Paris Agreement;
      • The EU accepts the Carbon Budget from IPCC leading to 66% certainty of staying below 1.5C;
      • The EU estimated its share of Carbon budget based on the share of the EU population and the share of its historic emissions (e.g. equal weights for population and historic emissions; accumulated emissions from 1992 until now). The shares of individual Member States were determined accordingly.

The future for the Paris Agreement Pathway is summarised in the following table.