Breaking Institutions: Reaching Zero Carbon by 2050

The movement to reduce carbon emissions in the EU is central not only for the widely proclaimed goal of 20% reduction by 2020, but to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050. The latest EU Strategic Energy Review, has this goal, it is assessed that without substantial institutional changes zero or low carbon emissions by 2050 are impossible. In this working paper, I have analyzed EU efforts at reaching this goal. The abstract is below and the paper can be had from this link.

Implementing carbon reduction technologies and policies in the energy sector rests on effective cooperation between governments and the private sector. The European Union holds ambitious plans to become carbon neutral by 2050. Examined in this article are three key means the EU and its Member States are using to substantially reduce carbon and other Green House Gas (GHG) emissions: Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) and energy efficiency policies.

A cross-section of stakeholders in the European Union were interviewed to assess these three key areas and to recommend changes to meet the 2050 goal. A risk assessment focused on governance and energy security of supply is conducted to determine the viability of these efforts. Highlighted in this analysis are the threats from institutional and technological lock-in of present carbon based technologies and how they inhibit investments into low carbon technologies.

Breaking current institutional arrangements are necessary to move from the dominant energy regime of supply side regulation to one balanced with demand side regulation and practices. The realization of a long-term reduction in carbon is aided by the identification of risks inhibiting the cooperative development of alternative technologies and institutional resources.