Fahrenheit 2040: heating and cooling in the EU

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The transition to a decarbonised heating and cooling sector is crucial for the European Union (EU): to meet the Green Deal’s target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and to tackle a range of pressing socio-economic, security and environmental issues. The buildings sector is central to the heating and cooling transition, given its substantial impact on the EU’s total carbon emissions. In the residential sector, space heating makes up for about two-thirds of final energy consumption, water heating for another 15 percent and cooling for around 0.5 percent. More than half of the energy use for residential space and water heating is based on fossil fuels. In the commercial and public services sector, space and water heating make up for about half of the total energy consumption.

The Fit for 55 legislative package is a crucial part of the EU’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030. The package includes significant actions aimed at decarbonising the buildings sector. However, the spread of these actions across various directives and regulations within the package makes it challenging to apply them in a unified manner, and important gaps towards full decarbonisation remain.

Against this background, the study addresses the following questions:

  • Is the EU on track to decarbonise heating and cooling in buildings?
  • Is the adopted framework for 2030 aligned with the goal of economy-wide full decarbonisation by 2050?
  • What gaps need to be addressed with regard to the 2040 framework?

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