EU Science Hub

Climate change mitigation

The EU has a stated objective of limiting global climate change to a temperature increase of 2ºC above preindustrial levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported in 2007 that reaching that target would require the reduction of global emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 75% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. In 2011 the European Commission adopted a Communication entitled “A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050”. In support of this Communication, the JRC carries out modelling activities to assess the technological and economic effects of various scenarios designed to meet the 2°C target.

Modelling energy futures for meeting the 2ºC target

The JRC POLES (Prospective Outlook for the Long term Energy System) model is a global sectorial simulation model for the development of energy scenarios for 2050. It allows for the assessment of the EU's internal reductions by 2050 in line with the 2ºC objective.

Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone

Black carbon (BC) and ozone in the lower troposphere are pollutants that contribute to global warming and can have harmful impacts on human health and ecosystems. Emissions of black carbon and ozone precursors are expected to further increase in many regions of the world. For this reason, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) initiated a study to investigate which known and feasible emission control measures could provide an improvement in air quality while also reducing levels of global warming.

Carbon capture and storage

Carbon capture and storage is considered to be one of the most promising technological options for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power generation and heavy industries sectors, acting as a bridge between the current fossil fuel dependent economy and a future carbon-free economy. This will require the development of new infrastructures to transport the captured CO2 from its sources to the appropriate CO2 storage sites, such as a network of pipelines and shipping routes.

Deforestation and Land Use Change

An estimated 15% of global GHG emissions can be traced back to tropical deforestation and the degradation of forests and peat. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiative is a global incentive mechanism that aims to help reduce GHG emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In support to the UNFCCC REDD+, the JRC is involved in developing internationally agreed methods for modelling and monitoring GHG emissions from deforestation in tropical countries.

Emissions from agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that raising animals to produce meat, eggs or dairy products causes 14-18% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The average consumption of animal protein per capita in the EU is about twice the global average recommended in the World Health Organization guidelines. Furthermore, a big share of what is produced on EU agricultural land is required to feed the animals in European livestock production, compared to direct human use. The JRC has implemented a life-cycle impact assessment module in the CAPRI (Common Agricultural Policy Regional Impact) model and has carried out a detailed assessment of the crade-to-gate life cycle emissions of GHGs from the livestock sector in the EU-27 according to animal species, animal products and livestock systems to help better manage animal production in Europe.

More information:

Monitoring Agricultural Resources Unit

Evaluation of the livestock sector's contribution to the EU greenhouse gas emissions


Renewable energies

The European energy strategy is strongly driven by the objectives of sustainability and security of energy supply. Implementation of renewable energy systems and improved energy efficiency are key means of satisfying these objectives. The JRC monitors the development and use of renewable energy sources and best practices in energy efficiency, and compares them with the European Union targets. The JRC develops methodologies to measure energy savings associated with specific policies and programmes and assesses the Member States' national action plans on energy efficiency.

CO2 emissions from vehicles

The Transport White Paper adopted by the Commission in March 2011 has set very ambitious objectives for cutting GHG emissions from transport, with a goal of a cut of 60% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. Road transport emits 71% of all transport-related GHGs.

The studies performed by the JRC aim to predict real-world fuel consumption values based on vehicle specifications and actual driving conditions, and to assess the actual impact of European CO2-reduction initiatives.

CO2 Emissions from Maritime Transport

CO2 emissions from international maritime transport are estimated to account for 3-5% of total global CO2 emissions, and are expected to increase. The current policy actions dealing with emissions from international maritime transport relate mainly to the fuel used and to the technological options available. Market-based instruments such as emissions trading schemes are being discussed at international level within the International Maritime Organization (IMO).