In July 2009, the leaders of the European Union and the G8 announced an objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In October 2009 the European Council set the appropriate abatement objective for Europe and other developed economies at 80-95% below 1990 levels by 2050. In support of this objective, the European Climate Foundation (ECF) initiated a study to establish a fact base behind this goal and derive the implications for European industry, particularly in the electricity sector. The result is Roadmap 2050: a practical guide to a prosperous, low-carbon Europe , a discussion of the feasibility and challenges of realizing an 80% GHG reduction objective for Europe, including urgent policy imperatives over the coming five years. The scientific basis and the political process behind the setting of that objective are not discussed.

Roadmap 2050 breaks new ground by outlining plausible ways to achieve an 80% reduction target from a broad European perspective, based on the best available facts elicited from industry players and academia, and developed by a team of recognized experts rigorously applying established industry standards.

Roadmap 2050: a practical guide to a prosperous, low-carbon Europe has two primary objectives: a) to investigate the technical and economic feasibility of achieving at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 1990 levels by 2050, while maintaining or improving today’s levels of electricity supply reliability, energy security, economic growth and prosperity; and b) to derive the implications for the European energy system over the next 5 to 10 years. Roadmap 2050 addresses at a high level GHG emissions across all sectors of the economy, and it analyses the power sector in depth. The approach taken stipulates the minimum desired 2050 outcome as expressed by European leaders, and then derives plausible pathways from today to achieve them. The methodology is known as “back-casting,” to differentiate it fundamentally from forecasting: the end-state is stipulated, that is, rather than derived. A back-casting approach can help to highlight where momentum must be broken and re-directed in order to achieve future objectives, while forecasting tends to extend current trends out into the future to see where they might arrive. The work on the three volumes of the Roadmap 2050 project has been undertaken by:

Volume I: Technical and Economic Analysis: McKinsey & Company; KEMA; The Energy Futures Lab at Imperial College London; Oxford Economics and the ECF

Volume II: Policy Report: E3G; The Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands; The Regulatory Assistance Project and the ECF

Volume III: Graphic Narrative: The Office for Metropolitan Architecture and the ECF

In addition, a wide range of companies, consultancy firms, research centres and NGOs have provided various forms of assistance during the preparation of this report. These organisations have provided valuable counsel that we have tried faithfully to reflect in this analysis, however their willingness to consult and to be consulted in the course of this work should not be taken to mean that each of them agrees with all of its assumptions or conclusions. The ECF is the sole author of the Roadmap 2050 report, is solely responsible for its content and will act as a guardian of the content. The materials can be freely used to advance discussion on decarbonisation of the power sector and the broader economy. The report is made available to any and all audiences via a Creative Commons license. For details of the terms and conditions, please:

download the document here.

The ECF wishes to thank the members of the core reflection group that provided feedback throughout the development of ‘Roadmap 2050 Volume 1: Technical and Economic Analysis’:

Acciona; CEZ Group; E3G; ECN, EdP; Enel;; ENTSO-E; E.ON; Germanwatch; Iberdrola; National Grid; RWE; Shell; Siemens; TenneT; Terna; Vattenfall; Vestas; WWF.

The ECF would also like to thank all those companies that provided feedback on our technical analysis of specific technologies:

Abengoa Bioenergia; Centrosolar Group AG; DELTA NV; Desertec Foundation; European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA); European Solar Thermal Electricity Association (Estela); First Solar; Flabeg; Ferrostaal; NTR plc; Nuon; NUR Energy Ltd; Oerlikon Solar; Phoenix AG; Q-Cells SE; Renewable Energy Corporation (REC); Schott; Solar Millennium; Standard Chartered Bank; Statkraft; Sun-tech Power.

The ECF would also like to thank all those academics who provided feedback on the project:

Ignacio Perez Arriaga; Laura Cozzi; Jean-Michel Glachant; David MacKay; Goran Strbac; Clas-Otto Wene; Ronnie Belmans.

Finally, the ECF would like to thank the Board of Advisors to the Roadmap 2050 project for their valuable support during its development and their ongoing efforts:

Marta Bonifert; Avril Doyle; Lars G. Josefsson; Meglena Kuneva; Jorma Ollila; Hans Joachim Schellnhuber; Lord Nicholas Stern; Graham Watson.

Roadmap 2050

Roadmap 2050 - Technical & Economic Analysis - Executive Summary

Roadmap 2050 - Technical & Economic Analysis - Full Report

Roadmap 2050 - Policy Report

Roadmap 2050 - Core Presentation

Roadmap 2050 - Visuals

Roadmap 2050 - All data