The European Climate Law writes into law the goal set out in the European Green Deal for Europe’s economy and society to become climate-neutral by 2050. The law also sets the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Climate neutrality by 2050 means achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions for EU countries as a whole, mainly by cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment.
The law aims to ensure that all EU policies contribute to this goal and that all sectors of the economy and society play their part.
- Set the long-term direction of travel for meeting the 2050 climate neutrality objective through all policies, in a socially fair and cost-efficient manner
- Set a more ambitious EU 2030 target, to set Europe on a responsible path to becoming climate-neutral by 2050
- Create a system for monitoring progress and take further action if needed
- Provide predictability for investors and other economic actors
- Ensure that the transition to climate neutrality is irreversible
The European Climate Law sets a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The EU Institutions and the Member States are bound to take the necessary measures at EU and national level to meet the target, taking into account the importance of promoting fairness and solidarity among Member States.
The Climate Law includes measures to keep track of progress and adjust our actions accordingly, based on existing systems such as the governance process for Member States’ national energy and climate plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts.
Progress will be reviewed every five years, in line with the global stocktake exercise under the Paris Agreement.
The Climate Law also addresses the necessary steps to get to the 2050 target:
- Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the EU has set a new target for 2030 of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to levels in 1990. The new EU 2030 target is included in the Law.
- In July 2021, the Commission adopted a series of proposals to revise all relevant policy instruments to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030.
- The Law also includes a process for setting a 2040 climate target.
The Climate Law includes:
- a legal objective for the Union to reach climate neutrality by 2050
- an ambitious 2030 climate target of at least 55% reduction of net emissions of greenhouse gases as compared to 1990, with clarity on the contribution of emission reductions and removals
- recognition of the need to enhance the EU's carbon sink through a more ambitious LULUCF regulation, for which the Commission made a proposal in July 2021 and which entered into force in May 2023
- a process for setting a 2040 climate target, taking into account an indicative greenhouse gas budget for 2030-2050 to be published by the Commission
- a commitment to negative emissions after 2050
- the establishment of European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change, that will provide independent scientific advice
- stronger provisions on adaptation to climate change
- strong coherence across Union policies with the climate neutrality objective
- a commitment to engage with sectors to prepare sector-specific roadmaps charting the path to climate neutrality in different areas of the economy
The European Climate Law was published in the Official Journal on 9 July 2021 and entered into force on 29 July 2021.
The Commission conducted extensive analysis and stakeholder consultation in preparation of its strategic vision for a climate-neutral EU published in November 2018. This was followed by an EU-wide debate on the vision.
A high-level public conference on 28 January 2020 provided a further opportunity for open, public stakeholder debate on the European Climate Law before its finalisation and adoption.
The public also had the possibility to provide feedback on the roadmap for the legislative proposal, with nearly 1000 contributions.
In 2023, for the first time, the Commission assessed progress towards the climate neutrality and adaptation objectives, as required under the European Climate Law. The findings were published as part of the 2023 Climate Action Progress Report and in a separate Staff Working Document on national progress with implementing adaptation.
Although greenhouse gas emissions continue to fall and there are encouraging signs of action on the ground, the Commission’s assessment is that current progress towards the EU’s climate neutrality objective appears to be insufficient. Action is most needed in areas which still require significant reductions in emissions (e.g. buildings, transport), where progress is too slow (e.g. agriculture), or where, in recent years, there has been a deteriorating trend, as is the case for the carbon sink (e.g. land use, land-use change, and forestry).
The European Union has made broad progress on adaptation to climate change, in particular through the ongoing implementation of the EU Adaptation Strategy. However, progress has been uneven across areas.
The assessment of progress on adaptation at the national level shows that Member States need to take significantly more action to adapt to climate change – for instance, on governance, funding, risk assessments, nature-based solutions, as well as monitoring, reporting and evaluation in order to reduce their social and economic vulnerabilities to the intensifying climate-related risks.
Based on the assessment, the Commission issued recommendations to Member States under the European Climate Law in December 2023. Member States that submitted draft updated National Energy and Climate Plans (NECPs) in time for the Commission’s EU-wide assessment of the draft NECPs receive recommendations on
the draft updated NECPs
the consistency of their measures with the EU’s climate -neutrality objective
the consistency of their measures with ensuring progress on adaptation under the European Climate Law.
Member States which did not submit a draft updated NECP or submitted one several months after the deadline only receive recommendations under the European Climate Law.
Commission recommendations: progress on climate neutrality and adaptation
These are recommendations under the European Climate Law for Member States which did not submit a draft updated NECP or submitted one several months after the deadline. You can find recommendations for other Member States on the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) page.
- Commission proposal for a Regulation: European Climate Law
- Commission amended proposal for a Regulation: European Climate Law
- Climate Law Factsheet
- 18 December 2023: Commission Communication: EU wide assessment of the draft updated National Energy and Climate Plans
- 18 December 2023: Commission Staff Working Document: Assessment of progress on climate adaptation in the individual Member States according to the European Climate Law