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Septembre 2021

Energy Transition:

A Common Challenge

<p><strong>Europe's<br />
Energy Transition:</strong><br />
A Common Challenge</p>
Christian Gollier
Executive director of Toulouse School of Economics

Christian Gollier is an internationally-renowned professor of decision theory under uncertainty, with applications in climate economics, finance and cost-benefit analysis and a special interest in long term (sustainable) effects. He is a fellow of the Econometric Society, and received an ERC Advanced Grant in 2011. He founded the Toulouse School of Economics alongside Jean Tirole, where he has served as director (2007-2015), vice-president (2017), and director again since December 2017. He is currently president-elect of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE).

In recent years, he has held visiting sabbatical positions at Harvard (2013) and Columbia (2015-2016). He has published more than 100 articles in top journals in economics, is one of the lead authors of the last two IPCC reports, and is the author of several books published by MIT Press, Princeton University Press and Columbia University Press. His most recent outreach book in French (Le climat après la fin du mois, PUF, 2019) on the importance of acting to mitigate climate change, has met with wide success in France, and is currently under translation into English.

Alexandre Robinet-Borgomano
Senior Fellow - Germany

Alexandre Robinet Borgomano est actuellement Directeur de la Communication, de la Presse et des Affaires Publiques du Groupe ODDO BHF. Il était auparavant Responsable du programme Allemagne de l’Institut Montaigne jusqu’en janvier 2022. Il a rejoint l’Institut Montaigne en 2019. Il a travaillé auparavant au Bundestag, comme attaché parlementaire d’un député allemand. Il a conduit pour la Fondation du patrimoine culturel prussien un projet d’exposition visant à présenter à Berlin les collections d’art moderne du dernier Shah d’Iran. Il a également participé au lancement d’un fonds d’investissement européen dans le domaine de la Smart City et pris part à l’initiative pour l’unification du droit des affaires en Europe. Diplômé de Sciences Po Paris, il est également titulaire d’une maîtrise en histoire moderne de la Sorbonne (Paris IV).


Chairman of the working group

  • Christian Gollier, Economist, Managing Director, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE)


  • Emilie Alberola, Department of Research and Innovation, EcoAct
  • Alice Degabriel, Junior Consultant, Kearney
  • Benjamin Fremaux, Senior Fellow Energy and Climate, Institut Montaigne
  • Safia Limousin, Partner and Global Lead of the Power & Utilities practice, Kearney
  • Julien Marchal, auditeur à la Cour des comptes
  • Xavier Ploquin, Senior Associate, Meridiam
  • Laetitia Puyfaucher, Founder, WordAppeal
  • Adrien Tenne, Manager, Kearney


  • Romain Debarre, Managing Director, Kearney Energy Transition Institute
  • Paul-Adrien Hyppolite, engineer MINES ParisTech
  • Alexandre Robinet-Borgomano, Head of the Germany Program, Institut Montaigne
  • Hugo Sancho, student MINES ParisTech, energy contributor énergie at Grand Continent
  • Marie-Claire Aoun, Head of Institutional Relations department, Terega
  • Clément Beaune, Secretary of State for European affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France
  • Gilles Bellamy, Public Affairs Directorate , EDF
  • Fabrice Bonnifet, Sustainable Development & Quality, Security, Environment Group Director, Bouygues
  • Denis Bonvillain, Head of European Affairs, SUEZ
  • Franziska Brantner, Member of the Bundestag
  • Pascal Canfin, Member of the European Parliament, European Parliament
  • Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, Chairman of the board of directors, ENGIE
  • Antoine Colombani, Member of the Cabinet of Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans
  • Vincent Damas, Group Head of CSR, CNP Assurances
  • Marc David, Director, Public Affairs Energy Transition
  • François Delabre, Head of Institutional Affairs, Air France-KLM
  • Bertrand Deroubaix, Senior advisor strategic board, TotalEnergies
  • Laurent Dublanchet, VP European and International Affairs, Air Liquide
  • Ottmar Edenhofer, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact
  • Christian Egenhofer, Senior Research Fellow, CEPS
  • Jean-Pierre Farandou, CEO, SNCF
  • Jean-Paul Faugère, former Président, CNP Assurances
  • Judith Hartmann, EVP and Group CFO, ENGIE
  • Stefanie Hiesinger, Member of the Cabinet of Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans
  • Hugues Hinterlang, Head of EU Public Affairs, Orano
  • Jean Huby, CEO, Oceanbreeze
  • Philippe Knoche, CEO, Orano
  • Michal Kurtyka, Minister, Ministry of Climate of Poland
  • Armand Laferrère, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Orano
  • Thomas-Olivier Léautier, chief economist, EDF
  • Patrick Lebrun, Deputy Director General, VINCI Energies
  • Michel Matheu, Special Advisor, Union Française de l'Electricité
  • Sébastien Meunier, Director of Institutional Relations and Territories Development, ABB France
  • Elisabeth Michaux, Head of Sustainable development, CNP Assurances
  • Jacques Mulbert, Division President - Process Automation - Measurement & Analytics, ABB
  • Susanne Nies, General Manager, Germany Smartwires
  • Nicolas Petrovic, CEO, Siemens France
  • Xavier Piechaczyk, Chairman of the Executive Board, RTE
  • Pierre-Yves Pouliquen, Sustainable Development Director, SUEZ
  • Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO, TotalEnergies
  • Benoît Potier, Chairman and CEO, Air Liquide
  • Ruth Reinstein, Energy expert, IDEA European Commission
  • Carsten Rolle, Head of Energy, BDI
  • Nathalie Simmenauer, Sustainability SVP - CSR and Environment, Air France-KLM
  • Guillaume de Smedt, Director Marketing & Strategy, Hydrogen Energy, Air Liquide
  • Aleksander Śniegocki, Energy, Climate and Environment Programme expert, Wise Europa
  • Matthieu Soulas, Senior Vice President Strategy & Climat, TotalEnergies
  • Alain Taccoen, European Affairs Directorate, EDF
  • Laurent Timsit, General Delegate, Fédération Nationale de l'Aviation Marchande
  • Vincent Thouvenin, Director European Affairs, RTE
  • Benjamin Thibault, Director, France Fortum
  • Bertrand le Thiec, Director of Public Affairs, EDF
  • Katharina Umpfenbach, Coordinator Energy, Ecologic Institute
  • Thomas Veyrenc, Director of Strategy and Foresight, RTE
  • Kamila Waciega, Director Energy, Public Affairs Department, Veolia
  • Kirsten Westphal, Senior Associate, German Institute for International and Security Affairs
  • Lidia Wojtal, Climate & Energy Policy Expert

In spite of its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions (in the past 30 years, there has been a 25% decline), the European Union (EU) is still far from reaching the target of carbon neutrality by 2050. Without appropriate action, severe climate impacts will be worse in the decades ahead.

In this report, Institut Montaigne analyses the means and tools for accelerating and completing the European Green Deal. Our policy recommendations are the result of interviews with various stakeholders (academics, policy makers, industry leaders, representatives of civil society) who advocate for a unified European strategy for energy transition, integrating the divergent interests of member states and supporting the effects of this transformation over time.

This report, chaired by Christian Gollier, Managing Director of the Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), aims at contributing to a substantial acceleration of the energy transition, as is needed for the EU to meet its climate goals.

A new impetus for Europe

European recovery plans

In July 2021, the EU Council approved the national recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) of 12 countries including the ones of Germany, Italy, Spain and France. The financial windfall represented by the European recovery plans makes it clearly possible to accelerate the energy transition. But this windfall does not guarantee its success. We need to ensure the cost-benefit optimization of investments to reduce CO2 emissions while guaranteeing the EU's energy security. In other words, the economic impact of this transformation must be overseen.

The European energy transition offers the opportunity to create new centers of economic and technological competitiveness and new sectors of excellence, in particular in the field of:

  • renewable energies;
  • hydrogen and electric batteries;
  • sectors that create value and "green" jobs.

The energy transition represents many opportunities for the EU: economic, social and geopolitical.

Shifting the paradigm

CO2 emissions in Europe must be reduced significantly to meet the Paris Agreement goals. This implies, within the next 30 years, a radical transformation of energy production, transformation and consumption systems as well as a drastic cut in the use of hydrocarbons in Europe.

Moreover, this decarbonization strategy relies on a deep change in skills and behaviors, as well as the development of significant technological innovation and investment in R&D in order to decarbonize applications and sectors for which no suitable solutions exist yet.

Fostering consensus

Despite significant progress, there is divergence between the EU member states in the field of energy policies. The main disagreement concerns the social aspects of this energy transition. Due to the heterogeneity of socio-economic situations within the EU, the fight against climate change is prioritized differently by each member state, making it difficult to reach consensus on the measures to be adopted.

A more integrated vision of Europe’s energy transition is needed to optimize investments in the transformation of European energy systems. The creation of an independent European Energy Transition Agency (EETA), with extended competences, would meet this need. The Agency could become the architect of an integrated European vision, monitoring the transformation of energy systems, in particular through systematic scientific studies: impact reports on energy costs, energy security and the social impact of these transformations.

A rational and unique carbon pricing policy

An incomplete European carbon market

Carbon pricing is currently monitored through the European Union CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme - EU ETS. Created in 2005, it regulates CO2 emissions from over 11,000 large European energy and industrial installations, responsible for 40% of EU emissions. While the EU ETS has worked well since its implementation from a technical standpoint, the ETS market only covers 40% of emissions, energy and industrial installations. It fails to account for sectors such as transport and the residential sector. As the rest of the sectors are not taxed at the European level, half of the member states have introduced carbon taxes with different perimeters and prices. This lack of harmonization prevents a significant impact on emission reductions at the European level.

Additionally, the ETS market only takes into account emissions on European soil and does not take into account the emissions resulting from imports. By failing to set a CO2 price on imports, it undermines market equity and competition between European and non-European products.

Strengthening the European carbon pricing policy

In the current context of economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 health crisis, volatile oil prices and political uncertainty regarding the support for green policies integrated within this recovery, this transition to a "climate neutral Europe" requires a growing and strengthened carbon pricing trajectory, adapted to the goals that need to be achieved.

Europe’s energy transition will involve a reduction in emissions of around 3.5 billion tons of CO2 per year. It is clear that this transformation must lead to profound changes in behaviors across entire sectors of society, with the goal of a massive and rapid reduction in the consumption of carbon-based goods. Carbon pricing can effectively orchestrate this large-scale societal change underlying Europe’s energy transition.

A known and reliable carbon impact...

Must involve consumers

In the absence of carbon pricing commensurate with our responsibilities to future generations, many are calling for a sense of individual and institutional responsibility on the part of emitters and their clients. While it is certain that global warming has deep systemic causes over which individual behavior has little control, acting on an individual level can still help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Estimates suggest that individual behavior has the potential to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint by up to 25%. Combined with a logic of collective demand, individual responsibility is therefore part of the solution to the climate challenge. For this, the carbon impact of consumer products must be made explicit and become a purchasing criterion for consumers.

By providing reliable and simple information

Exact information about the carbon impact of consumer products remains abstract or approximate. Integrating the carbon criterion into purchasing decisions requires access to reliable and simple information regarding the carbon impact of particular production or consumer goods. Yet, no satisfactory system exists to compare the carbon impact of particular production or consumer goods. Such systems have many shortcomings: multiple and non-comparable methodologies, unclear taxonomy, lack of official benchmarks, non-certified information, etc.

Albeit a few exceptions, the carbon impact is rarely integrated into consumer decision making. Only a few sectors, mainly energy and transport, have information about their carbon emissions. There is a genuine technical challenge of providing a unified methodology and a certified carbon accounting system at the European level, which would allow for true carbon traceability of production and consumer goods. At large, carbon traceability is a prerequisite for establishing true carbon adjustment at borders.

Our recommendations for reaching a unified European strategy for energy transition

Strengthening the EU’s CO2 emissions pricing policy and redistributing its revenues to ensure social equality
In detail
  • Renewing the European Union CO2 Emissions Trading Scheme
  • Creating a European Central Climate Bank (ECCB)
  • Redistributing carbon pricing revenues to the lowest income sectors.
Strengthening coordination on energy transition issues and building support within the EU
In detail
  • Creating an independent European Energy Transition Agency (EETA) with broader powers
  • Shifting the paradigm of the European energy transition
  • Planning the closure of European coal mines and power stations by supporting the conversion of the affected areas and employment areas.
Establishing a carbon traceability system to inform consumers, evaluating companies, and facilitating the implementation of an ambitious carbon adjustment scheme between borders
In detail
  • Developing European carbon accounting to determine the carbon content of goods produced and consumed in the EU
  • Imposing carbon labelling on goods consumed in the EU
  • Gradually extending carbon adjustment at EU borders to new sectors and to more complex products, through carbon accounting
Using the European recovery plans as an opportunity to accelerate the decarbonization of the European economy through targeted reforms and investments
In detail
  • NextGeneration EU: the European architecture of recovery plans
  • Comparing the energy and climate components of the German, French and Polish recovery plans
  • Accelerating the decarbonization through targeted investments in the transport sector
  • Promoting coordinated development and cross-border projects in the hydrogen sector.
<p><strong>Europe's<br />
Energy Transition:</strong><br />
A Common Challenge</p>
(132 pages)
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