The CLEVER scenario

the CLEVER logo

CLEVER (a Collaborative Low Energy Vision for the European Region) proposes an ambitious and realistic decarbonisation pathway for Europe. It has been developed through a bottom-up approach that starts with the national trajectories constructed by 26 national partners from the academic world, research, or civil society. The scenario presents a pathway that reconciles the long-term climate and sustainability imperatives with the short-term energy security constraints and practical feasibility of such a transformation. 

CLEVER evaluates the potential of energy demand reduction (sufficiency and efficiency) and renewable energy development at the national and European level, with the aim to reach carbon neutrality at the European level by 2050 at the very latest, together with a 100% renewable mix.

🎉The CLEVER scenario was officially unveiled on Monday 5 June in Brussels!
🖥️ You can watch a replay of the event here, and download the presentation slides here (.pdf ↗)

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A large and diverse network

CLEVER is a scenario developed under the leadership of the négaWatt association in France through a dialogue with national and European scenario builders from diverse organisations (think-tanks, research institutes, technical universities, civil society organisations, etc.), with the aim to aggregate national visions into a European one.  
The CLEVER network includes 26 partners from 20 European countries, with different levels of involvement in the project:
active partners having built their trajectories bottom-up,
● commenting partners having commented trajectories built top-down,
● observing partners participating in the broader exchange).

🗺 Map of the network here

A bottom-up methodology 

The CLEVER pathway was developed through a dialogue with national scenario makers in order to aggregate national visions into a European one and thus increase the feasibility of concrete transformations. The CLEVER scenario therefore fully takes into account national specificities, while also looking at optimisation gains of a coordinated action at the European level. 
Between 2019 and 2023, the national partners have been engaged in a technical dialogue to ensure the collective development of this project.
This process allowed to question their work and modelling approaches, and share best practices, which results in built-up capacity and raised ambition. Thematic working groups and methodological meetings have also been regularly organised the project. 

The “Sufficiency – Efficiency – Renewables” approach

The CLEVER pathway has been built through an innovative three steps approach:

The modelling starts with the definition of energy demand in every consumption sector (mobility, buildings, food, etc.). This modelling follows a sufficiency approach.
🔗 more information here 

The intensity of this demand is optimised thanks to improvements to energy efficiency. Appropriate energy carriers are also chosen to optimise the decarbonisation of energy while respecting other sustainability issues (minimisation of raw material footprint, pollution, etc.). 

The resulting energy production needs are fulfilled through renewable energies.

CLEVER final reports and results


After 4 years of modelling and collaborative dialogue, the final report and results are finally online:

📓 CLEVER final report: A pathway to bridge the climate neutrality, energy security and sustainability gap through energy sufficiency, efficiency, and renewables

📝 Final report Executive Summary, giving insight in key features and recommendations of the report

📊 The CLEVER pathways for the EU area (EU27 or EU27 + Norway, Switzerland and UK) and each individual country, on our online data visualisation tool, highlighting the evolution over time of several key indicators such as GHG emissions, renewable energy shares and energy consumption.
📁 Click here for an Excel extract of some of the detailed assumptions (.xls↗) used to run our model.

📰 The press release

The sectoral notes published throughout the project are available here


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Sufficiency, efficiency and renewables deliver a swift and equitable response to the climate and energy crisis

Overall, the CLEVER modelling shows that through applying Sufficiency-Efficiency-Renewables, following objectives can be reached at European level:

Europe can reach net GHG/climate neutrality by 2045
-90% net as a core 2040 milestone on the way including a -85% gross reduction to minimise risks around carbon sinks

Europe can be fully independent from all forms of energy imports by 2050, including from hydrogen/Power-to-X

Europe’s energy demand can be reduced by -55% by 2050, with sufficiency as a core enabler providing -20-30% reductions in DE-FR-UK

Europe can be 100% renewable and do without CCS and new nuclear by 2050, on the basis of existing 2030 deployment targets for wind, solar and biogas
100% renewable electricity can be reached by 2040, with electrification being kept at a sustainable level, minimising infrastructure development and pressure on material resources and maximising acceptance

These milestones are not only feasible, but they also appear necessary for Europe to truly set itself on a safe and strongly sustainable 1.5°C compatible pathway.

Equity between and within countries and European solidarity are core enablers, allowing to smoothen the transition.

🏛️ 🇪🇺 In order to achieve this ambition, action is needed now. The EU “Fit For 55” package and 2030 objectives provide an unprecedented EU commitment to climate action, and the REPowerEU Plan a truly ambitious answer to the energy crisis.
But rather than unnecessary and expensive 2030 hydrogen deployment levels for instance, making real space for sufficiency policies in all sectors is needed.

The CLEVER partners have developed further policy recommendations including concrete measures on sufficiency in the buildings, transport and industry sectors, and around the upcoming 2040 target debate, which should not only include an ambitious target of more than -90% net GHG reductions by 2040, but also set the basis for targets of -45% energy savings compared to 2015 levels and 80% of renewable energy, and create momentum for the inclusion of sufficiency as a pillar of Europe’s energy savings policies, in addition to efficiency.

Sufficiency as the basis of the CLEVER approach

In the context of an increasingly acute environmental and climate crisis and growing social inequalities, sufficiency appears to be a relevant compass for policy decisions.
It aims at redefining our needs for resource-intensive services (provided by energy, land, materials etc.) as individuals and as societies, in order to adjust their nature and quantity at a level compatible with the Earth’s capacity.
In this sense, sufficiency focuses the debate on quality of life instead of quantity of services and puts an emphasis on demand-side measures (promoting natural thermal comfort and light, avoiding oversized cars or household equipment, etc.).

This search for a balance between meeting basic needs (“social foundation”) and ensuring that our impact remains below planetary limits (“ecological ceiling”) is well illustrated by the “Doughnut theory”.

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A key driver for decarbonation

By ensuring a higher certainty of decarbonisation and more security and resilience, sufficiency is a crucial tool both to reach the Paris Agreement Goal of 1.5°C and tackle the energy crisis.

In the current context of energy and climate crises, coupled with geopolitical and social tensions within and between States, sufficiency could be one of the quickest and most effective solutions. However, it is still absent from most public policies and political discourse, including at the European level, and has been underrepresented in energy and climate scenarios so far.  
The CLEVER scenario has been built to fill this gap and underline the potential of redesigning collective and individual practices.

🔗 Read the briefing note about sufficiency

Sufficiency as an essential complement to efficiency 

Efficiency and sufficiency are often confused

For a given service (e.g. commuting), efficiency will reduce the resource intensity of the service
e.g.: using a lower carbon impact engine, such as switching from oil to electricity

Adjust the service and its level to meet the associated need
e.g.: using smaller cars to suit the need or other modes of transport such as soft or collective mobility

While both concepts have an impact on final energy consumption and could be categorised under “energy savings”, sufficiency is an additional but necessary complement to efficiency, which enables to avoid any rebound effect (e.g. heating the buildings at higher temperatures after a thermal retrofit) and to minimise technological gamble ( e.g. betting on a breakthrough on low carbon engine and fuels for aviation).

Ensuring a just transition for all: convergence of national energy consumptions 

The CLEVER scenario intends to ensure a fair and equitable transition towards carbon neutrality.

This means that particular attention is given to essential needs as opposed to superfluous consumption. Basic needs must be fulfilled for everyone, regardless of income and social status, while at the same time respecting planetary boundaries.
Beyond that, a just transition also implies a rebalancing of consumption levels (between countries and within countries, between different social strata), to allow everyone to flourish in a preserved environment and to participate in the transition in proportion to their resources.

In the construction of the scenario, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals have been used and referred to as framework for this comprehensive and equitable approach.

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Building convergence corridors, a just transition tool between countries  

To ensure a fair transition between countries that is dependent upon their different level of wealth and greenhouse gas emissions, the CLEVER network has worked on corridors of energy consumption towards 2050.

For major indicators of the trajectory, a lower and upper limit of consumption for 2050 have been built in the technical dialogue amongst partners, on the basis of international literature and partners expertise with regards to national circumstances.
This may lead to an increase in consumption in some countries in order to enable access to a decent standard of living and to basic energy services for all, and a decrease in the level of consumption in others in order to remain within the planetary limits.

📝 The convergence corridors used in the build-up of CLEVER are given and explained in dedicated sectoral notes publication available here.

Drawing a just transition between people: sufficiency and empowerment 

The CLEVER approach is fundamentally one of fairness. Sufficiency in CLEVER aims for providing a fair access to basic level of services to all for every consumption sector.
Here are some examples of the European societies CLEVER describes in 2050: 

🏘 Most buildings have been deeply renovated, and thus energy poverty broadly reduced.

🚎 Transport means accessible to all (collective and soft mobility) have been developed, so that there are more efficient and equitable alternatives to inherently unequal modes of transport such as cars and planes. 

Transformed imaginaries around sharing, caring, and repairing empower people rather than alienating advertisings which generate the dream of obtaining a comfort (regular aeroplane holidays in the tropics, driving an SUV…) that is inaccessible to most and intrinsically unsustainable.  

Major publications





Concept notes
Notes explaining the CLEVER’s vision.

Sectoral notes
Notes on the key consumtion sectors covered by the CLEVER scenario. They detail the main assumptions used in the modelling.
In particular, the convergence corridors of national consumptions towards 2050 used to harmonise the bottom-up construction of the scenario between the different national trajectories are detailed and explained (residential sector and mobility sector).


🇪🇺 The network includes more than 26 partners from 20 European countries, with different levels of involvement in the project:

  • Active partners worked on bottom-up trajectories: these partners have built their own national trajectory, often based on existing ones, in a technical dialogue with the project leader (négaWatt) with a view to harmonising assumptions. 
  • Commenting partners worked on top-down trajectories: these partners have commented a trajectory for their country in a technical dialogue with the project leader, with a view to making it solid, matching local circumstances and realities. Those trajectories were built by the project lead on the basis of existing literature and the bottom-up comparison and harmonisation of active partner’s trajectories. 
  • Observing partners participated to the broader exchanges of the project. These partners have sometimes given the project leader insight into key national issues which should be considered in their country’s trajectory or have been prevented from building or fully commenting on a trajectory because of the lack of available national data and expertise on a number of sectors.