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Energy Transition Needs to Accelerate Urgently, Says EU’s Scientific Advice Mechanism

There are many possible pathways towards a carbon-neutral future — and achieving it by 2050 is possible but requires urgent action. This is the conclusion of a group of top scientists tasked by the European Commission with advising on how to facilitate the energy transition in Europe.

The European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism published two major documents on a systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe yesterday:

In these documents, the experts underline that the energy transition is far from a purely technical challenge. To make the transition a reality, we need to solve a huge systemic problem, coordinating countless individual voluntary decisions on investment, consumption and behaviour across Europe.

This means transforming the entire European energy system — a change which will affect every part of our society and require huge investment during the transition. It must be done in a socially equitable way. And we already need to accelerate progress if we want to achieve the EU’s target of net zero emissions by 2050.

Professor Peter Lund, chair of the SAPEA working group that wrote the report, said:

“The SAPEA report does not recommend an unequivocal policy package for Europe, but rather a set of policy options addressing various important facets of the overall challenge of the energy transition to reach carbon neutrality.

“However, as a central conclusion, any successful policy must involve a carbon pricing mechanism, in both the EU Emissions Trading System and Effort Sharing Regulation sectors, that delivers a sufficiently high carbon price while putting the pricing in a socially just frame.”

Professor Antonio Loprieno, the chair of the SAPEA Board and President of ALLEA, added:

“The transition of the energy system to tackle climate change is a key challenge and priority for the European Union, and its implications will impact on all parts of our societies, including a range of technical, economic, and social aspects. It is particularly important, that policymakers are well informed by science while making decisions on such complex issues.

“This report takes a multidisciplinary and systemic approach and provides evidence-based observations for achieving the EU’s emission targets by 2050 from an energy system transition perspective, thus brings the best and newest scientific knowledge into policymaking.”

 

SAPEA is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. Together with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, it provides independent scientific advice to European Commissioners to support their decision-making. SAPEA brings together outstanding expertise from natural, applied, and social sciences and humanities, from over a hundred academies, young academies and learned societies in more than 40 countries across Europe. ALLEA is involved in SAPEA as one of its European academy networks.

Learn more about SAPEA and their Evidence Review Reports here

 

 

 

 

Plastic Pollution: Are Biodegradable Plastics a Solution?

This webinar will review the latest scientific evidence on the biodegradability of plastics from SAPEA and discuss the policy recommendations made by the European Commission’s independent Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

ALLEA President Takes over as Chair of SAPEA

ALLEA President Antonio Loprieno became the new chair of the Board of SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies). SAPEA is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism and brings together outstanding expertise in engineering, humanities, medicine, natural and social sciences from over 100 academies, young academies and learned societies across Europe.

President Loprieno took over the Chairmanship from Sierd Cloetingh, the President of the Academia Europaea, on 15 June. He will lead the transition of the EU-funded project towards its next phase.

“This is an exciting time to become chair of the SAPEA Board, with important new projects on the horizon and more public interest than ever in the role of scientific evidence in policy. I thank Sierd for his excellent leadership until now, and I look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of SAPEA”, said Loprieno, fellow of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences.

The SAPEA Board consists of the presidents of the five European Academy Networks, who work on a voluntary basis and act as a central body for decisions on joint activities within SAPEA.

About SAPEA

Together with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, SAPEA provides independent scientific advice to European Commissioners to support their decision-making. It also works to strengthen connections between Europe’s academies and Academy Networks, and to stimulate debate in Europe about the role of evidence in policy-making. As one of five academy networks in Europe, ALLEA is involved in the SAPEA project.

Professor Antonio Loprieno assumed the Presidency of ALLEA in May 2018 and was re-elected in 2021. He studied Egyptology, linguistics and Semitic studies at the University of Turin in Italy, and has served as Rector of the University of Basen (2006-2015) and President of the Jacobs University Bremen (2019-2020), among other responsibilities.

Biodegradable Plastics: How Do We Engage With Consumers and Society?

This webinar draws on a recent SAPEA report and the related Scientific Opinion by the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors.

History and Future of Knowledge – Interview With ALLEA President

How is the nature of knowledge changing? What is the impact of the digital revolution on the roles of universities, academies and science advisors? Is the democratisation of knowledge always a good thing?

Professor Antonio Loprieno, ALLEA President, discusses these questions with Toby Wardman of SAPEA. They also discuss how to digitally unwrap an Egyptian mummy, whether there is such a thing as objective truth, and how loudly Toby can scream when his audio is muted.

Listen now

New Evidence Review Report: Can Biodegradable Plastics Help Reduce Plastic Pollution?

SAPEA, one of ALLEA major projects, just published a new evidence review report presenting the latest scientific evidence on biodegradability of plastics in the open environment. What does ‘biodegradable plastic’ mean?  Can biodegradable plastics help reduce plastic pollution? What policies should be in place to ensure that biodegradable plastics are beneficial to the environment, compared with non-biodegradable plastics? These questions are in focus of this new evidence review report.

In the report, a working group of leading experts nominated by academies across Europe conclude that biodegradable plastic has a role to play in reducing the accumulation of plastics in the environment. However, its role is limited to some specific applications. In other cases, including single-use packaging and plastic bags, it would be better to reduce the amount of plastic we use — or to re-use it, recycle it, or, where we can, compost it in industrial plants.

The SAPEA experts also stress that calling something ‘biodegradable’ does not mean that it will biodegrade in all conditions. Whether an item will biodegrade harmlessly depends not only on the item itself, but which environment it ends up in, what it breaks down into, and how long that takes.

SAPEA (Science Advice for Policy by European Academies) brings together outstanding expertise in engineering, humanities, medicine, natural and social sciences from over 100 academies, young academies and learned societies across Europe. It is part of the European Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism.

Read the evidence review report

Everything you wanted to ask about science advice #AskRolf

Professor Heuer is the Chair of the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors which provides independent and high quality scientific advice to the College of European Commissioners, and an experimental particle physicist. Before joining the Group of Advisors, he was CERN Director-General until December 2015.

On 3 November at 11:00, Professor Heuer will answer your questions and discuss with you how to make politicians listen and understand science and why it is important live on YouTube.