Decarbonising the building sector is essential for achieving the EU’s emissions neutrality goal. While some countries in Central and Eastern Europe registered a significant decrease in emissions despite an increase of living space, in other countries emissions stabilised at a high level or even increased slightly. Can the experiences of the best performers be used to facilitate a decrease in emissions in the other countries? By how much do transport emissions have to decrease to be compatible with the temperature limit set out in the Paris Agreement?
The publication investigates the impact of 10 indicators influencing emissions from the building sector in Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. For each of these indicators, we select the best value found in one of the six countries and develop a Regional Best Practice Scenario (RBP Scenario) in which the indicators with the best value from the selected countries are applied universally across these countries until 2030. Subsequently, we compare this value with the emissions reduction needed to meet the Paris Agreement temperature limit.
The main conclusion of the report is that the universal application of the Regional Best Practices would result in emission levels close to those that can be considered as compatible with the Paris Agreement in 2030. Instead of increasing by 11%, in line with past trends, emissions from the sector would decrease by 55%. An emissions reduction of at least 61% could be considered as compatible with the Paris Agreement.
The main driver of the emissions reduction would be space heating, if its level of energy consumption and emissions intensity were to decline at the speed already observed in Slovakia and Bulgaria. An improvement in the emissions intensity of energy used for cooking and water heating would also play an important role despite the fact that the Regional Best Practice only slowed energy consumption in these two areas.
While the study focused only on direct emissions, we also investigated an increase in energy consumption from sectors which due to their reliance on electricity only result in indirect emissions – space cooling and appliances. Even with the application of Regional Best Practices, the energy demand of the former would increase by 242%-fold and by 17% for the latter. With space cooling and appliances jointly responsible for 15% of final energy consumed in the buildings sector in 2030, and the role of electricity also increasing in space heating, cooking, and water heating, the need to decarbonize the electricity sector is gaining urgency. Otherwise electrification would only shift emissions instead of reducing them.
The European Climate Initiative (EUKI) This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
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