Why climate knowledge matters

With the European Green Deal and the Climate Law, the EU is firmly committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Neutrality is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C, as agreed in the Paris Agreement.

Action must be taken swiftly and the coming decade will be decisive for achieving this ambitious goal.

What role does research and innovation play?

Research and innovation is crucial for developing technological and socio-economic solutions that are necessary to deliver on this ambition.

But EU-funded research and innovation projects are also developing critical knowledge, models and tools to guide the transition to climate neutrality.

They help assess costs, risks, trade-offs and co-benefits of policies, strategies and investments, which helps policymakers, administrations, businesses and civil society take the right steps towards delivering on the European Green Deal.

The evidence generated plays an important role in defining cost-effective ways to achieve a low-carbon society, also known as decarbonisation pathways.

The EU's research and innovation programme Horizon Europe (2021-2027) will generate critical evidence for designing and implementing the EU’s climate policies, and for achieving the broader Sustainable Development Goals.

Research outcomes provide valuable insights on how to steer the EU towards climate neutrality by embracing the complex interplay between the energy system, various sectors, the economy and consumer behaviour.

The projects in this area address the design of transformative policies, economics of climate change and adaptation needs, as well as insights on how to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions across sectors and the conditions needed to succeed.

Background

The transition to climate neutrality is an immense challenge and calls for a deep transformation across all key sectors of the economy. This means fundamentally restructuring the way energy, land and water resources are managed.

Fossil fuels must be phased out and replaced by greener, more efficient technologies in energy generation, buildings, transport and industry. 

Renewables will be at the heart of the transformation, working in tandem with increased circularity and sustainable bio-based approaches.

Agriculture and the land-use sector will also need to reduce their greehnhouse gas emissions and expand carbon sinks, while delivering benefits for biodiversity.

Climate neutrality can only be achieved if everybody contributes – governments, business and citizens. Changing people's behaviour towards more sustainable habits will be critical and needs to go faster.

The transition to climate neutrality will be costly and must be financed, but in the long-run it will pay for itself. The benefits from lower temperatures, less extreme events and thriving biodiversity will by far outweigh the costs.

That is why mobilising finance, both public and private, towards sustainable investments is a priority, in particular in the post COVID-19 context where we have a unique opportunity to 'build back better'.

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