Skip to main content
Research and innovation
News article29 June 2021Directorate-General for Research and Innovation3 min read

Put people at the heart of energy transition policies, EU Chief Scientific Advisors recommend

Today, the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors (GCSA) delivered a Scientific Opinion on a systemic approach to the energy transition in Europe. In their opinion, the Advisors provide policy recommendations on how the Commission can contribute, accelerate, and facilitate the clean energy transition at the European and global level. One of their key recommendations is that a sustainable and fair transition to a climate-neutral energy system requires not only innovative technologies, but also a people-centric approach that actively involves all participants in the energy environment.

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, said:

The European Union is leading the global fight against climate change by taking action to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Transforming the energy system is a necessary effort to reach this goal. This Scientific Opinion recommends how to do it in an efficient, inclusive and fair way, reaping the benefits of innovative technologies such as digitalization and ensuring that no person or place is left behind.

Professor Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Deputy Chair of the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and lead Advisor for the Opinion:

Achieving the full decarbonization of the EU energy system by mid-century is possible, but it requires urgent and decisive action to Integrate emissions-free energy sources and uses in a flexible way, creating a participatory environment that supports clean energy choices, and using the right combination of regulatory instruments are necessary steps to make this transition efficient, inclusive and fair.

The fight against catastrophic climate change is arguably one of the most pressing challenges we are facing. In order for global warming to remain below 1.5 degrees, greenhouse gas emissions should reach their peak as soon as possible and the whole world should become climate neutral by 2050. Achieving this goal will require, amongst other things, a full transformation of the energy sector.

EU can lead global transformation

The Scientific Opinion contains recommendations on how the EU can lead this global transformation towards a climate-neutral energy system. In particular, the Advisors recommend developing a flexible, efficient energy system by integrating renewable sources, electrification, and hydrogen, investing in the integration of infrastructures, and supporting research and innovation. Coal-based energy production should be phased out and replaced with renewable energy sources; road transport and industry should switch from fossil fuel to electricity as much as possible; and the energy efficiency of buildings, especially for heating and cooling, should be significantly improved.

They also stress the importance of creating an inclusive and participatory environment that supports low-carbon energy choices, incentivizing energy efficiency and reduction of energy use while assuring sufficient services for all. Finally, they recommend that a coordinated combination of policies and measures, including carbon pricing, should be used to shape an effective, consistent and just regulatory system, with a clear direction towards the common goals of climate neutrality and sustainability.

The Opinion is informed by an Evidence Review Report  produced by the SAPEA (Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies) consortium of Academies, which forms part of the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism. The recommendations will contribute to inform Commission policies in the framework of the European Green Deal, an action plan to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2050 and to make European economies sustainable, such as the forthcoming ‘Fit for 55’ package, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 % by 2030.


Since establishment in 2016, the European Commission’s Group of Chief Scientific Advisors provides the College of Commissioners with independent, high quality scientific advice that has informed policy making on more than a dozen topics. The Chief Scientific Advisors are seven eminent scientists appointed in their personal capacity, and act independently and in the public interest. Information on their work and its impact can be found in the ‘Report on the work of Group of Chief Scientific Advisors 2015-2019’.

For its work, the Group is supported by Evidence Reviews carried out by the SAPEA consortium (Scientific Advice for Policy by European Academies), a Horizon 2020-grant bringing together 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.

The Group and the SAPEA consortium are supported by a secretariat in the Directorate General for Research and Innovation, that includes staff seconded from the Joint Research Centre (JRC). Collectively, the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors, SAPEA, and European Commission support staff are referred to as the Commission’s Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM).

More information

Scientific Opinion “A Systemic Approach to the Energy Transition in Europe”

Executive summary


Group of Scientific Advisors


Publication date
29 June 2021
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation