The European Commission (EC) unveiled a strategic long-term vision - A Clean Planet for all - which promises a 'prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy' by 2050, according to the EC's statement on Wednesday.
'The purpose of the long-term strategy is not to set targets, but to create a vision and sense of direction, plan for it, and inspire as well as enable stakeholders, researchers, entrepreneurs and citizens alike to develop new and innovative industries, businesses and associated jobs,' the EC said.
The vision for a climate-neutral future covers nearly all EU policies. Moreover, it is in line with the Paris Agreement objective to keep the temperature increase to well below 2 degrees.
In line with the strategy, power generation should be fully decarbonized by 2050 with more than 80 percent of the EU’s electricity being produced by renewable energy sources.
'We are stepping up our efforts as we propose a strategy for Europe to become the world's first major economy to go climate neutral by 2050,' said Miguel Arias Canete, commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.
'It is in Europe's interest to stop spending on fossil fuel imports and invest in meaningful improvements to the daily lives of all Europeans,' he added.
To become a climate neutral economy, joint action would be required in seven strategic areas: energy efficiency; deployment of renewables; clean, safe and connected mobility; competitive industry and circular economy; infrastructure and interconnections; bio-economy and natural carbon sinks; carbon capture and storage to address remaining emissions, according to the EC.
'We have a strong mandate from our citizens,' the EC said, adding that 93 percent of Europeans believe climate change is caused by human activity and 85 percent agree that fighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can create economic growth and jobs in Europe.
'Over the last years, we have shown how to reduce emissions, while creating prosperity, high-quality local jobs, and improving people's quality of life. Europe will inevitably continue to transform. Our strategy now shows that by 2050, it is realistic to make Europe both climate neutral and prosperous, while leaving no European and no region behind,' said Maros Sefcovic, the vice-president responsible for the Energy Union.
In 2016, with 48.7 percent, almost half of the net electricity generated in the EU came from combustible fuels, such as natural gas, coal and oil, while more than one quarter, representing 25.7 percent, came from nuclear power stations and the remaining came from renewables, according to Eurostat's data.
Among the renewable energy sources, the highest share of net electricity generation in 2016 was from hydropower plants with 12.1 percent. This was followed by wind turbines with 9.7 percent, solar power with 3.5 percent and geothermal with only 0.2 percent.
By Firdevs Yuksel