In October 2009, the European Union (EU) agreed to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by between 80 and 95 per cent by 2050 in the EU as a whole, as compared to 1990 levels – an objective that is in line with scientific calls to ensure we have a chance of limiting global temperature increase to 2°Celsius. With the EU's energy sector required to almost completely decarbonise by 2050 (meaning almost zero GHG emissions from energy production, transportation and consumption), a major transition in just a few decades is necessary to achieve this goal. Therefore, a long-term policy perspective towards 2050 is essential. Many decisions taken today influence the EU's ability to meet its decarbonisation goals.
The authors investigate how far the EU is along the road to decarbonisation, and what remains to be done in policy development. They also seek to understand whether the decarbonisaton goal is a central feature of the EU's external relations with its energy partners, and how these relations could change under decarbonisation.