Parliament fuels debate over Europe's future energy use 

Find out more about the EU's energy mix in our infographic  

The use of highly polluting fuels, such as coal and oil, will have to be reduced substantially if the EU is to meet its long–term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% by 2050. In order to move to a low-carbon energy system, we will need a higher share of renewable energy sources and improved energy efficiency, according to a Parliament resolution adopted on 14 March.

Future of energy

The European Commission published in December 2011 an energy roadmap to a low-carbon economy in 2050, which sets out several scenarios for how Europe should structure its energy supply if it is to meet its goal for reducing emissions. The EP resolution adopted on 14 March was in response to this energy roadmap. Nike Tzavela, a Greek member of the EFD group who wrote the resolution, commented: "The disagreement is on the means and the ways and the mechanism and the policy that we will use until we get to this ultimate goal."

Renewable energy

The EU is on track to meet its 2020 renewable energy targets, said MEPs, adding that renewables will in the long term play a more prominent role in Europe's energy mix.

They also call on the Commission to support the move to third generation bio–fuels, which are based on food crop waste products, and to impose similar conditions on imported bio–fuels.

Fossil fuels

In 2010, almost three–quarters of all energy consumed in the EU came from fossil fuels, with 35% from oil, 27% from gas and 16% from coal. They are likely to remain part of the energy system  during the transition to a low–carbon energy system. According to MEPs:

  • nuclear energy will remain an important contributor 
  • natural gas will play an important role in the short to medium term, since it represents a "relatively quick and cost–efficient" way of reducing reliance on other more polluting fossil fuels 
  • oil is likely to remain in the energy mix even in 2050, albeit with a much lower share than today, and used mainly in long–distance passenger and freight transports 


Electricity will become more important in the future energy mix. This means that all forms of low-carbon electricity production will need to be harnessed, including conversion efficiency, renewables, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear energy.

Energy savings

The resolution also called on the current rate and quality of building renovation to be given a substantial boost in order to reduce buildings' energy consumption by 80% by 2050 compared to 2010 levels.