Fighting climate change is a priority for the European Parliament. Below you will find details of the solutions the EU and the Parliament are working on.
Mitigating global warming: a matter of 2°C increase
Average global temperatures have risen significantly since the industrial revolution and the last decade (2011–2020) was the warmest decade on record. Of the 20 warmest years, 19 have occurred since 2000.
Data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows that 2022 was the hottest summer and second warmest year on record. The majority of evidence indicates that this is due to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) produced by human activity.
The average global temperature is today 0.95 to 1.20°C higher than at the end of the 19th century. Scientists consider an increase of 2°C compared to pre-industrialised levels as a threshold with dangerous and catastrophic consequences for climate and the environment.
This is why the international community agrees that global warming needs to stay well below a 2°C increase.
Why is EU climate action important?
Climate change is having an impact on Europe
Climate change is already affecting Europe in various forms, depending on the region. It can lead to biodiversity loss, forest fires, decreasing crop yields and higher temperatures. It can also affect people's health.
The EU is a big greenhouse gas emitter
The EU was the world's fourth biggest greenhouse gases emitter after China, the US and India in 2019. The EU's share in the world’s greenhouse gas emissions fell from 15.2% in 1990 to 7.3% in 2019
Discover more facts about climate change in Europe
The EU is a committed member of United Nations climate negotiations
The EU is a key player in UN climate change talks and has signed the Paris agreement. All EU countries are also signatories, but they coordinate their positions and set common emission reduction goals at the EU level.
Under the Paris agreement, the EU committed in 2015 to cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. In 2021, the target was changed to at least 55% reduction by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.
The EU efforts are paying off
In 2008, the EU set the target to cut emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels by 2020. Emissions had dropped 24% by 2019 and to 31% by 2020, due partly to the Covid-19 pandemic. New targets were set in 2021.
Check out our infographic on the EU's progress towards its 2020 climate goals
The European Green Deal: achieving zero net emissions by 2050
In 2021, the EU made climate neutrality, the goal of zero net emissions by 2050, legally binding in the EU. It set an interim target of 55% emission reduction by 2030.
This goal of zero net emissions is enshrined in the climate law. The European Green deal is the roadmap for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050.
The concrete legislation that will allow Europe to reach the Green Deal targets is laid down in the Fit for 55 package that the Commission presented in July 2021. It will include the revision of existing legislation on emissions reduction and energy, which are explained further below.
The EU is also working to achieve a circular economy by 2050, create a sustainable food system and protect biodiversity and pollinators.
In order to finance the Green Deal, the European Commission presented in January 2020 the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, which aims to attract at least €1 trillion of public and private investment over the next decade.
Under the investment plan, the Just Transition Fund is designed to support regions and communities that are most affected by a green transition, for instance regions that are heavily dependent on coal.