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Climate Action
Climate and nature

Joint crises, joint solutions

Nature is an essential ally in the fight against climate change. Our natural ecosystems – such as forests, oceans, wetlands, and peatlands – act as the Earth's carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and keeping it safely stored. Therefore, nature restoration is a pivotal form of climate action, especially considering that 80% of Europe’s natural habitats are currently in poor condition.

Conversely, the destruction of nature exacerbates climate change. When trees are cut down, the carbon they store is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming. Degraded soils lose their capacity to retain carbon and water. The latter also makes floods more frequent and intense, posing challenges for climate adaptation efforts.

At the same time, climate change poses a significant threat to nature itself. Warmer temperatures, droughts, and rising sea levels mean more and more places are becoming uninhabitable for plants, animals and other organisms.

Moreover, climate change creates a vicious circle: for example, as oceans warm, their ability to store CO2 decreases, which leaves more carbon in the atmosphere, further exacerbating climate change.

EU action for climate and nature

The EU works on many different fronts to tackle the climate and nature crises. Our overarching strategy is the European Green Deal, through which we have the ambition of reaching climate neutrality by 2050 and putting Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030.

Specifically, here are some of the key actions the EU is taking to tackle the joint crises:

  • Biodiversity strategy for 2030: a comprehensive, ambitious plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. The strategy aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 for the benefit of people, climate and the planet. Key commitments include enlarging existing Natura 2000 areas, with strict protection for areas of very high biodiversity and climate value.
  • Nature restoration law: the Commission’s proposal is the first continent-wide, comprehensive law of its kind. It calls for binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems, in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters. The law aims to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, and ultimately all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
  • The 3 billion trees pledge: the EU has committed to planting 3 billion additional trees before 2030. This could remove 15 million tonnes of CO2 from the air each year by 2050.
  • #ForOurPlanet: an EU campaign to address the climate and nature crises across the globe. We want to encourage all citizens and civil society to take action #ForOurPlanet, from planting trees to restoring wetlands, or just bringing nature to your house, roof or garden. Every action counts!
  • LIFE programme: the EU’s funding instrument for environmental and climate action projects, with a budget of €5.43 billion. Many projects jointly tackle the climate and biodiversity crises. For instance, in Austria, LIFE AMooRe aims to restore more than 1,400 hectares of peatland – a very powerful carbon sink.

For further information on EU action for climate and nature, please visit the Commission’s Climate Action and Environment websites.