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EU 20-20-20 energy policy as a model for global climate mitigation


The EU has established an aggressive portfolio with explicit near-term targets for 2020 – to reduce GHG emissions by 20%,
rising to 30% if the conditions are right, to increase the share of renewable energy to 20%, and to make a 20% improvement in
energy efficiency – intended to be the first step in a long-term strategy to limit climate forcing. The effectiveness and cost of
extending these measures in time are considered along with the ambition and propagation to the rest of the world. Numerical
results are reported and analysed for the contribution of the portfolio’s various elements through a set of sensitivity experiments.
It is found that the hypothetical programme leads to very substantial reductions in GHG emissions, dramatic increases
in use of electricity, and substantial changes in land-use including reduced deforestation, but at the expense of higher food
prices. The GHG emissions reductions are driven primarily by the direct limits. Although the carbon price is lower under the
hypothetical protocol than it would be under the emissions cap alone, the economic cost of the portfolio is higher, between
13% and 22%.
Policy relevance
This article explores the potential to extend the present EU Energy Policy and propagate it to the global community. It
decomposes the contribution to climate mitigation from each of the policy’s elements. The costs of our hypothetical protocol
are estimated and compared to the cost of a simple cap-and-trade regime. Although more expensive than a policy that directly
reduced emissions, additional costs were between 13% and 22%. By directly exploring a potential global mitigation strategy,
this work is directly relevant to the international climate policy dialogue.


Academic article


  • Research Council of Norway (RCN) / 209697




  • Katherine Calvin
  • Jae Edmonds
  • Bjørn Harald Bakken
  • Marshall Wise
  • Sonny Kim
  • Patrick Luckow
  • Pralit Patel
  • Ingeborg Graabak


  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • SINTEF Energy Research / Energisystemer
  • USA



Published in

Climate Policy




Taylor & Francis






581 - 598

View this publication at Cristin