The EU could double its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 without resorting to building new nuclear power stations or unproven technologies like Carbon Capture and storage (CCS), according to research released by the Stockholm Environment Institute.
Current commitments will see the EU cut its emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. But the new study says Europe could cut domestic emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 and 90 per cent by 2050 on 1990 levels.
It could do this through 'radical improvements' in energy efficiency and a faster switch from fossil fuels to renewables. Wind power, says the study, could be generating 55 per cent of electricity for the continent by 2050.
'Our analysis shows that deep cuts in emissions can be achieved in Europe at reasonable cost between now and 2050, even with rather conservative assumptions about technological improvement,' said report author Dr Charles Heaps of Stockholm Environment Institute.
The study also envisages a shift towards public transport and a move away from air travel.
Car journeys could drop from 75 per cent to 43 per cent of all journeys by 2050 and 80 per cent of intra-European flights under 1,000km could switch to rail by the same date.
The study estimates the cost of such a 40 per cut emissions is likely to be between 1 and 3 per cent of EU GDP.
'While this is not a trival sum by any means, it also is not a prohibitive cost. In fact, it can even be considered a small cost when viewed in the context of the dire crisis we are facing,' says the study.
In the UK, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said the EU had committed to a 20 per cent cut by 2020 but was willing to increase that to 30 per cent if other countries showed similar ambition at the Copenhagen climate negotiations.
However, the UK's climate watchdog, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), recommended in September that the UK should make a 42 per cent cut by 2020.
Stockholm Environment Institute study
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