Just as the best available science grounds the goals of EU climate policies, the best available technological and economic evidence is needed to shape these policies.
DG Climate Action uses a wide range of mathematical models, tools and methods to evaluate the potential economic, social and environmental consequences of its policy proposals (impact assessment).
The EU Reference Scenario is a projection of economic activity and energy, transport and emissions trends in the EU and its Member States, assuming current policies and trends.
It describes, in a detailed and consistent way, a possible future path our economy can take, given certain assumptions.
Such assumptions are made – on the basis of expert judgment, other modelling exercises and scientific peer review – about
Because the Reference Scenario assumes current policies are continued, it can be used as a benchmark to assess the impacts of policy changes.
EU Reference Scenario 2016 – examples
Reference Scenario 2016 - Full Report
Reference Scenario 2016 - European Commission Summary
Former Reference Scenario 2013 used for the 2030 framework
Economic modelling can be used to assess what different targets mean or what consequences policy other changes have. It can also analyse a cost-effective pathway towards a long-term objective and thus help inform strategic decisions on policy.
Such an analysis was carried out for the 2050 low-carbon roadmap. The robustness of the Commission's analysis was confirmed for instance by the AMPERE project (2011-14), which evaluated assessment models used to explore climate change mitigation pathways and their associated costs.
Modelling for the 2030 framework
Detailed economic and environmental modelling covered
The analysis showed that:
These findings informed policy decisions on emissions reduction targets and ways to ensure fairness between countries as detailed in the European Council conclusions (e.g. modernisation fund for investments in lower-income countries) and address potential competitiveness impacts (e.g. free allocation of allowances in the EU ETS).
The models are linked with each other to ensure consistency in the building of scenarios (see illustration below).