UK: The EU's Roadmap To A Competitive Low Carbon Economy

Last Updated: 10 March 2011
Article by Paul Sheridan and Olivia Quaid

Highlights huge investment and structural changes  

On 8 March 2011 the European Commission  (the "Commission")  published a number of documents relating to the EU's transition to a low carbon economy and energy efficiency. These represent the Commission's  plan for the future upon which it will consult with other EU institutions. These are important indicators of the direction of future law and policy. Two documents in particular, a roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 (COM(2011) 112/4) (the "Roadmap") and an Energy Efficiency Plan 2011 (the "Plan") are key reading for commercial leaders in all sectors. They should be of particular interest to investors, fund and asset managers, real estate developers, transport, energy and other infrastructure providers, those who are involved in public procurement and, of course, clean technology providers.

The content of these documents is intended to make clear the EU's path to emissions reduction, promotion of growth and jobs in the clean economy, reduce vulnerability to potential future oil volatility and other energy security concerns, substantially reduce the energy import bill, air pollution and associated costs. It is also intended to stimulate international discussion.

Starting point

The Commission states that if current policies are fully implemented, the EU is on track to achieve its 2020 targets of reducing emissions to 20% below 1990 levels and raising, to 20%, the share of clean energy in its energy mix. However, further work is required in order to reduce domestic emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050. This target would require a 40% domestic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 80% by 2050.

The Commission  identifies energy efficiency as a key vehicle for the transition.

The Roadmap

The Roadmap sets out  the  Commission's  views on key challenges, milestones, a sectoral perspective on low carbon innovation, investment, the international dimension and draws together conclusions.

The Roadmap outlines how the transition can be achieved in the most cost-effective way, the type of technologies and actions requiring implementation and the types of policies the EU will need to develop. It proposes that the reductions targeted are technically feasible if sufficient incentives (such as a strong carbon price) are applied across all sectors. Research and development, early demonstration and deployment of technologies are identified as crucial. The Roadmap also emphasises the importance of the EU's Strategic Energy Technology Plan as a key component. Additional public/private mechanisms are seen as key to fuelling behavioural change. Sector specific policy initiatives and roadmaps are planned

Domestic v international

The Roadmap raises the need to act domestically, raising concerns over the viability of international credits being able to offset enough emissions in Europe. The concern is that large-scale use of international credits will not be possible by 2050 as the global climate action needed to keep average warming below 2ºC will reduce the supply of international credits and their availability at low cost. As a result the decision has been taken within the Roadmap to reduce emissions almost entirely through domestic measures in the longer term. This has major policy and future legislative implications for decarbonised power, fuel efficiency, the built environment, industry and land use. A stream of new policy and legal developments should be expected.

The scale of investment

The Roadmap states that achieving an 80% emissions reduction by 2050 will require additional annual investment averaging 1.5% of EU GDP (€270 billion) for the next 40 years in addition to current overall investment.

The Plan

Sectors identified for additional investment include:

  • built environment (buildings and other infrastructure),
  • transport,
  • power generation and
  • industry

The Plan identifies that the greatest energy saving potential lies in buildings followed by transport. The largest investment in absolute terms would be in demand-side technologies in these sectors e.g. energy-efficient building materials and components, technologies such as heat pumps and appliances.


The Commission  proposes a 2 tier approach to target setting. Firstly, Member States are presently setting national efficiency targets which shall be reviewed in 2013. Secondly, if at that stage the overall EU target is unlikely to be achieved,  the Commission  will propose legally binding targets for 2020. 

Public Sector

Significant emphasis is placed on energy efficiency in the public sector. In addition to existing measures in this area it is proposed that high standards of energy efficiency should be applied in the purchase of goods, services and works.

This will no doubt surprise (if not shock) many but a proposal is that public authorities should be required to refurbish at least 3% of their building stock each year.


When considering the efficient generation of heat and electricity, the Commission  proposes that where there is sufficient potential demand authorisation for new thermal power generation should be conditional on its being combined with systems allowing the heat to be used (combined heat and power) and district heating systems should be combined with electricity generation wherever possible. Other proposed measures include national energy saving obligation schemes for all Member States, mandatory regular energy audits for large companies, voluntary agreements with industry, a revision of the Energy Services and Combined Heat and Power Directives, the adoption of new ecodesign and energy labelling measures and proposals on financing tools.

Next destination?

The Roadmap is a Communication addressed to the Council, European Parliament, European Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions. The EU institutions and bodies are expected to give their responses, in the coming months. The  Commission  has invited all of the above to take the Roadmap into account in the further development of EU and national policies for achieving a low carbon economy by 2050. At sectoral level  the Commission  perceives a need to develop specific roadmaps in cooperation with the sector. The leveraging of finance for low carbon technologies will form part of discussions on the EU's next budget framework for 2014-2020 and incentives to reduce emissions from agriculture and forestry will be part of the further development of the Common Agricultural Policy.

The Roadmap and the Plan will be followed by a White Paper on Transport (anticipated this month). All three are cited as key components of the resource-efficient Europe initiative under the Europe 2020 strategy. The Commission  is also preparing a Communication on resource efficiency and a 2050 Energy Roadmap for adoption later this year.


Please click here for the Roadmap

Please click here for the Plan

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 09/03/2011.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.