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A sectoral perspective

The Roadmap for moving to a low-carbon economy shows how the effort of reducing greenhouse gas emissions should be divided cost-effectively between different economic sectors. All sectors will have to contribute according to their technological and economic potential.

GHG reductions compared to 1990200520302050
Total-7%-40 to -44%-79 to -82%
Power (CO2)-7%-54 to -68%-93 to -99%
Industry (CO2)-20%-34 to -40%-83 to -87%
Transport (incl. CO2 aviation, excl. maritime)+30%+20 to -9%-54 to -67%
Residential and services (CO2)-12%-37 to -53%-88 to-91%
Agriculture (Non-CO2)-20%-36 to -37%-42 to -49%
Other Non-CO2 emissions-30%-72 to -73%-70 to -78%

These percentages have been based on a large number of different decarbonisation scenarios. (For more info, see the Impact Assessment)

Power sector

Power wind © iStockphoto

The power sector has the biggest potential for cutting emissions. It can almost totally eliminate CO2 emissions by 2050. Electricity could partially replace fossil fuels in transport and heating.

Electricity will come from renewable sources like wind, solar, water and biomass or other sources that are low in carbon emissions like nuclear power plants or fossil fuel power stations equipped with carbon capture and storage technology.

The share of these clean technologies in power generation could increase rapidly, from 45% today, to around 60% in 2020 and almost 100% in 2050. For this to happen the cap on emissions from the power sector under the EU Emission Trading System will need to be strengthened and considerable investment put into smart grids.


While emissions from transport are still increasing today, they could be reduced to more than 60% below 1990 levels by 2050.

For passenger cars, we would first see further improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars with traditional petrol and diesel engines. After 2025, a shift to plug-in hybrid cars and electric cars will allow CO2 emissions from cars to be cut very steeply.

Planes will be powered largely by biofuels and also heavy duty vehicles (lorries) will not fully shift towards electro mobility. Biofuels used should be sustainable to avoid increased pressure on biodiversity and an increase of greenhouse gas emissions through changes in land use.


Emissions from houses and office buildings can be almost completely cut, by around 90% in 2050.

The energy performance of buildings will be improved drastically; 'passive' housing technology will become mainstream for new buildings and old buildings will be retrofitted. Heating, cooling and cooking will be largely powered by electricity and renewable energy, instead of fossil fuels.

Investments can be recovered over time through reduced energy bills.


Petrochemical industry © iStockphoto

Energy intensive industries will also make a large contribution by cutting emissions by more than 80% by 2050. Technologies used will get cleaner and more energy-efficient.

In addition, a large-scale introduction of carbon capture and storage technologies, which allow CO2 to be stored underground instead of pumped into the atmosphere, would be needed. This would require big investments of €10 billion annually by 2040-2050.


As global food demand grows, the share of agriculture in the EU's total amount of emissions will raise to about a third by 2050. But reductions are possible and it is vital to achieve these emission cuts in the agricultural sector as well; otherwise other sectors will need to make a bigger reduction effort.

Agriculture will need to cut emissions from fertiliser, manure and livestock and can contribute to the storage of CO2 in soils and forests. But also changes towards a more healthy diet with more vegetables and less meat can reduce emissions.