The CLEVER scenario

the CLEVER logo

CLEVER (a Collaborative Low Energy Vision for the European Region) aims to propose an ambitious and realistic decarbonisation pathway for Europe. It is being developed through a bottom-up approach that starts with the national trajectories constructed by 20+ national partners from the academic world, research, or civil society. The scenario proposes 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.

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A large and diverse network

The CLEVER pathway is being 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 more than 22 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 is being 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. 
Since 2018, the national partners have been engaged in a technical dialogue to ensure the collective development of this project, thus allowing them 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 “Sufficiency – Efficiency – Renewables” approach

The CLEVER pathway is being 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 

Once this demand is defined, its intensity 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.). 

Finally, the energy production needs are fulfilled through renewable energies.

First results 

The scenario is currently in its final stages of development, with a view to final publication in the Spring 2023.
First results were presented during a WEBINAR: “First scenario results and lessons for Europe”, on 15 December 2022.

👉 The presentation slides are available here

👉 See the replay
The sound problem of the first few minutes of the recording does not persist…


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A necessary halving of our energy consumption

Following global results appear necessary to set Europe on a sustainable and secure 1.5°C-compatible pathway, minimising environmental risks and energy imports :

📉 Emissions reduction (/1990)
2030 : -65% net GHG
2040 : at least -90%
2045 : neutrality (~-98%)

🌬️ Renewable Energy Sources
2030 : 40-45% (under finalisation)
2040 : at least 75% RES (>90%RES-E)
2050 : 100%

Final Energy Consumption (/2020)
2030 : -20-25% (~15-18%/REF2020)
2040 : -45%
2050 : -50 to -55%, with sufficiency as the key to reach such levels (40-55% of reduction)

More results, including by sector and country, are also available: to access them, see the replay of the 15 December webinar and stay tuned ahead of the publication of the final report in June 2023.

Sufficiency as the basis of the CLEVER approach

In the context of an increasingly acute environmental and climate crisis, and growing social inequalities, sufficiency 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.

Although it could be one of the quickest and most effective solutions to the current energy and climate crises, coupled with geopolitical and social tensions within and between States, sufficiency 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. by using a lower carbon impact engine, such as switching from oil to electricity), while sufficiency will adjust the level of service to meet the associated need (e.g. by 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 has 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.  

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

A series of sectoral and concept notes are already available. 

Project presentations

Concept notes

Sectoral notes

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🇪🇺 The network includes more than 24 partners from 20 European countries, with different levels of involvement in the project:

  • Active partners working 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 working 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 who 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. 

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