Several scenarios on the table for a climate neutral Belgium in 2050 – Economic Policy

Several scenarios on the table for a climate neutral Belgium in 2050 – Economic Policy
Several scenarios on the table for a climate neutral Belgium in 2050 – Economic Policy

Belgium technically has the means to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050 and several ways are possible to achieve it, but this transition will require both behavioral changes, technological progress and significant investments in infrastructure, according to a report. prospective study carried out by the Climate Change Service of the FPS Public Health and presented on Tuesday.

Several scenarios have been identified leading to a climate neutral Belgium in 2050, one of the main objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. These scenarios have been developed from a tool, available online, which makes it possible to “play” on the ambition levels of more than a hundred levers in all sectors of society (energy production, transport , buildings, agriculture, etc.) and assess the impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and on the consumption of resources.

The different scenarios

Among the possible pathways, a behavioral scenario emphasizes lifestyle changes in certain areas, such as mobility, habitat and diet. A so-called “technological” scenario favors the deployment of technologies aimed at energy efficiency and carbon-free fuels such as synthetic fuels or hydrogen. A central scenario is based on a balanced approach between the behavioral and technological dimensions and makes it possible to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 95% in 2050 compared to 1990, the residual emissions, in industry in particular, being offset by carbon sinks and various carbon capture and storage techniques. Finally, a so-called “high demand” scenario explores the implications of a trajectory characterized by higher energy demand than the previous scenarios.

The merit of this prospective exercise is to show that climate neutrality in Belgium by 2050 is technically achievable, it is stressed, “even if this represents a great challenge in all sectors and requires systemic changes, both behavioral and technological “. In this regard, a reduction in travel (the Belgian drives an average of 13,000 km per year by car) or a change in diet (less meat consumption, in particular), for example, represent levers for a significant reduction in gas emissions. Greenhouse effect.

Invest in infrastructure

It also appears that the transition to carbon neutrality will require more investment in infrastructure, the end of fossil fuels and a massive use of renewable energies, primarily wind and photovoltaic, but also biomass, hydrogen and “e-fuels” produced from renewable energy. The study shows that the larger investments to be made would be offset by a drop in the energy bill.

Regarding agriculture, a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane) would go through a reduction in the size of cattle herds, a more extensive use of meadows and the liberation and reforestation of agricultural areas currently in use. for forage crops.

The Federal Minister of Climate, Zakia Khattabi, welcomed the availability of this “new instrument for supporting strategic decision-making in the area of ​​climate governance”. A tool that will fuel public and societal debate. The diversity of the scenarios presented leaves “a large place for dialogue and public debate”, notes the minister who will, in the process, make this report available to all governments and parliaments in the country. “The democratic issue is at the heart of the transition, it is only together and with full knowledge of the facts that we will be able to achieve our climate objectives,” said Ms. Khattabi.

A study that is “not going in the right direction”

For their part, the environmental NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF, Inter-Environnement Wallonie and Bond Beter Leefmilieu) qualify the study carried out by the administration as “not in the right direction because it shows that Belgium can and must commit to this objective, the only one capable of allowing us to remain under a global warming of 1.5 ° C “.

For these NGOs, Belgium “must drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from today, which it has not done since 2015” and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.

Dozens of countries and the European Union, now accounting for 73% of greenhouse gas emissions, have already committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Several scenarios have been identified leading to a climate neutral Belgium in 2050, one of the main objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement. These scenarios have been developed from a tool, available online, which makes it possible to “play” on the ambition levels of more than a hundred levers in all sectors of society (energy production, transport , buildings, agriculture, etc.) and assess the impact on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and on the consumption of resources. The different scenarios Among the possible avenues, a behavioral scenario emphasizes on lifestyle changes in certain areas, such as mobility, housing and food. A so-called “technological” scenario favors the deployment of technologies aimed at energy efficiency and carbon-free fuels such as synthetic fuels or hydrogen. A central scenario is based on a balanced approach between the behavioral and technological dimensions and makes it possible to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 95% in 2050 compared to 1990, the residual emissions, in industry in particular, being offset by carbon sinks and various carbon capture and storage techniques. Finally, a so-called “high demand” scenario explores the implications of a trajectory characterized by higher energy demand than the previous scenarios. The merit of this prospective exercise is to show that climate neutrality in Belgium by 2050 is technically achievable, it is stressed, “even if this represents a great challenge in all sectors and requires systemic changes, both behavioral and technological “. In this regard, a reduction in travel (the Belgian drives an average of 13,000 km per year by car) or a change in diet (less meat consumption, in particular), for example, represent levers for a significant reduction in gas emissions. Greenhouse effect. Investing in infrastructure It also appears that the transition to carbon neutrality will require more investment in infrastructure, the end of fossil fuels and a massive use of renewable energies, primarily wind and photovoltaic, but also biomass. , hydrogen and “e-fuels” produced from renewable energy. The study shows that the larger investments to be made would be offset by a drop in the energy bill. Regarding agriculture, a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (such as methane) would go through a reduction in the size of cattle herds, a more extensive use of meadows and the liberation and reforestation of agricultural areas currently in use. for forage crops. The Federal Minister of Climate, Zakia Khattabi, welcomed the availability of this “new instrument for supporting strategic decision-making in the area of ​​climate governance”. A tool that will fuel public and societal debate. The diversity of the scenarios presented leaves “a large place for dialogue and public debate”, notes the Minister who will, in the process, make this report available to all the governments and parliaments of the country. “The democratic issue is at the heart of the transition, it is only together and with full knowledge of the facts that we will be able to achieve our climate objectives,” said Ms. Khattabi. A study that is “not going in the right direction “For their part, the environmental NGOs (Greenpeace, WWF, Inter-Environnement Wallonie and Bond Beter Leefmilieu) qualify the study carried out by the administration as” a step in the right direction because it shows that Belgium can and must make a commitment towards this objective, the only one capable of allowing us to remain under a global warming of 1.5 ° C “. For these NGOs, Belgium “must drastically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions from today, which it has not done since 2015” and achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. Dozens of countries and the European Union , now accounting for 73% of greenhouse gas emissions, have already committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

 
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