The current changes in the planet’s climate are transforming the world. The last two decades
included 18 of the warmest years on record, and extreme weather events, such as forest fires,
heatwaves and floods, are becoming more frequent both in Europe and elsewhere.
Scientists warn that without urgent action, global warming is likely to exceed 2°C above pre-
industrial levels by 2060, and could even reach as much as 5°C by the end of the century.
Such a rise in the global temperature will have a devastating impact on nature, bringing about
irreversible changes to many ecosystems and a consequent loss of biodiversity. Higher
temperatures and intensified weather events will also result in huge costs for the EU’s
economy and hamper countries’ ability to produce food.
The EU’s response to climate change: goals and legislation
At least 55% fewer greenhouse gas emissions by 2030
The EU has adopted ambitious legislation across multiple policy areas to implement its
international commitments on climate change. EU countries have set binding emission
targets for key sectors of the economy to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
By 2017, the EU had reduced its emissions by almost 22% compared to 1990, reaching its 2020
emission reduction target three years ahead of schedule.
In December 2020, in light of the EU’s commitment to increase its climate ambition in line with
the Paris Agreement, EU leaders endorsed a binding EU target for a net domestic reduction of at
least 55% in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 – a substantial step up from
the EU’s previous 2030 target of cutting emissions by 40%.
In April 2021, the Council and the Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the European
climate law which aims to set into law the 2030 emissions reduction target.
The agreement was
adopted by EU ministers in June 2021.
While this increased climate ambition will require transforming the EU industry, it will also:
– spur sustainable economic growth
– create jobs
– deliver health and environmental benefits for EU citizens
– contribute to the long-term global competitiveness of the EU economy by promoting
innovation in green technologies