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Research and innovation
News article28 November 2018Directorate-General for Research and Innovation

Independent experts make research and innovation recommendations for achieving emissions goals

A panel of independent experts on decarbonisation has published a report on the role of research and innovation in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, as well as the R&I priorities that will put the EU at a competitive advantage in the decarbonisation race. The members of the High-Level Panel of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative acted as advisors to Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.

Commissioner Moedas said:

Climate action requires ambition. Nothing short of immediate action leading to net-zero emissions by 2050 will suffice. More and better focused R&I is a necessary condition to reach our long term climate targets and maintain our standard of living.

The Panel recommends that the European Commission:

  • engage in a race to the top in innovation for decarbonisation, searching for new alternatives;
  • give priority to zero-carbon solutions that have the potential to be developed and deployed within the 2050 timeframe;
  • explore and develop portfolios of zero-carbon technologies, promoting diversification, and reducing the risk of too-early and risky choices;
  • emphasise system-level innovation, promoting sector-coupling so that the individual elements of decarbonisation fit together in a coherent whole;
  • focus investments in the high added-value segments of the value chains;
  • engage in smart international cooperation for zero-carbon innovation.

The report draws on the expertise of members from different sectors. It has been published together with the Commission Strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’ in accordance with the Paris Agreement and a few days before the start of the UNFCCC COP24 international climate change negotiation session in Katowice, Poland.

“We can innovate ourselves out of the climate crisis,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Chair of the high-level panel, Director Emeritus of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and member of the scientific academies of Germany, the US, and the Vatican. “But we need to take bold decisions and we need to take them quickly. European research policy should spend taxpayers’ money where the impact is greatest: on breakthroughs and social inventions rather than on subsidising tip-toeing. My eight colleagues and I are proud to present a catalogue of hope, both for our climate and for our economy.”


The High-Level Panel of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative is an expert group composed of nine members from academia, industry and public administration. The group was tasked by Commissioner Moedas with advising the Commission in relation to research and innovation strategies and priorities that will support and accompany EU decarbonisation pathways compatible with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The work of the High-Level Panel started in autumn 2016 and ended in autumn 2018, after ten discussion sessions. They were supported by many experts, who agreed to take part in the discussions, as well as by the EU-funded DEEDS project, tasked with facilitating the preparation of the discussions and their syntheses, as well as by a secretariat provided by Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission

More information

Final Report of the High-Level Panel of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative

‘Internet of electricity’ and zero-carbon molecules will help decarbonise Europe – report


Publication date
28 November 2018
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation