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Scenarios for a One Planet Economy in Europe


Scenarios for a One Planet Economy in Europe

Study for the European Commission


Gardner, Loni et al. 2011: OPEN:EU scenarios suggest that transforming Europe to a One Planet Economy will require very aggressive policy action. OPEN:EU project report.

The results of a scenario exercise carried out under the OPEN:EU project suggest that the transformation of Europe into a One Planet Economy by 2050 would require very aggressive policy action. The study is available for download.

The impacts of four potential EU policy mixes, aimed at achieving a One Planet Economy, were quantified through the scenario modeling function of the EUREPA tool. Results of the exercise demonstrated that the reductions in footprint impacts necessary for Europe to reach a One Planet Economy are not possible without a combination of both dramatic improvements in resource efficiency and significant reductions in consumption. The conclusions challenge the assumption that we can continue to grow our economy and individual expenditure whilst at the same time reducing our environmental impacts to within the planet’s ecological limits.

Insights from the exercise include:

  • Decarbonisation of electricity supply is an essential part of the policy mix – overall, policy that targets production has a more significant effect when indicators are linked to the energy system (and carbon)
  • While improvements in resource efficiency are effective in reducing the Carbon Footprint of the housing and transport sectors, it is not enough to achieve the impact reductions required – policy must also target reductions in overall consumption
  • The environmental impact embedded in goods and services imported to the EU is significant – the efficiency of industry and energy outside of the EU has a large influence on the EU’s environmental footprint
  • Reductions in the Water Footprint are more difficult to achieve due to the limited scope of policy in this area and to the lack of substitutes for water in the production process - generally, avoiding consumption of goods with a high water impact will achieve higher reductions of embedded water than improving production efficiency.

The four scenario storylines which were modeled were developed by the OPEN:EU project team to describe a One Planet Economy in Europe in 2050. In each scenario, Europe reaches a One Planet Economy in 2050 through different mixes of policy interventions.

The purpose of the OPEN:EU scenario storylines is to explore a range of possible futures and relevant policy interventions toward a One Planet Economy in Europe. The subsequent exercise quantified the scenarios to explore the influence of different policy approaches on the EU’s Carbon, Ecological, and Water Footprint.

The OPEN:EU scenario storylines were developed by Ecologic Institute and the Sustainable Europe Research Institute (SERI), based upon an initial stakeholder workshop. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI York) carried out the scenario quantification exercise.

Both the Open: EU scenario storyline report [pdf, 1.1 MB, English] and the OPEN:EU scenario quantification report [pdf, 700 KB, English] are available for download.

More content from this project

Loni Gardner JD
Susanah Stoessel
Killian Wentrup
57 pp.
Project ID
Table of contents
Carbon Footprint, Ecological Footprint, Water Footprint, Footprint Family, EU policies, sustainability, sustainable development indicators, production and consumption, one planet economy, green economy