There are many possible pathways towards a carbon-neutral future — and achieving it by 2050 is possible but requires urgent action. This is the conclusion of a group of top scientists tasked by the European Commission with advising on how to facilitate the energy transition in Europe.

In the SAPEA evidence review report, experts underline that the energy transition is far from a purely technical challenge. To make the transition a reality, we need to solve a huge systemic problem, coordinating countless individual voluntary decisions on investment, consumption and behaviour across Europe.

This means transforming the entire European energy system — a change which will affect every part of our society and require huge investment during the transition. It must be done in a socially equitable way. And we already need to accelerate progress if we want to achieve the EU’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

“Achieving the full decarbonisation of the EU energy system by mid-century is possible, but it requires urgent and decisive action to integrate emissions-free energy sources and uses in a flexible way, creating a participatory environment that supports clean energy choices, and using the right combination of regulatory instruments are necessary steps to make this transition efficient, inclusive and fair”, says professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, deputy chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

The report: A systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe