The European Union reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% between 1990 and 2017, while the economy grew by 58% over the same period. According to the new EU climate action progress report, however, amid robust economic growth, emissions increased slightly by 0.6 % between 2016 and 2017, mainly in transport and industry.
In 2018, the EU adopted a comprehensive set of climate legislation to deliver on its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030 as compared with 1990. In addition, the EU renewable energy and energy efficiency targets for 2030 were raised (compared to the Commission proposals) to 32% and 32.5%, respectively.
If these agreed EU-level policies are fully implemented, EU emissions are estimated to be cut by around 45% by 2030. This would already be more than the EU has subscribed to under the Paris Agreement and reaffirms the commitment to be at the forefront of global climate action. This is all the more important in the context the recent IPCC Special Report on global warming of 1.5 degrees, which will be taken into account in the preparations for the EU long-term strategy.
With the policies already in place in the 28 Member States, EU emissions are projected to decrease by 30% by 2030. Building on the new Regulation on Energy Union Governance, Member States are now preparing national energy and climate plans that are expected to close the gap between existing planned measures at national level and what is now required at the EU level. Member States will submit their draft plans to the Commission by the end of this year.
The decoupling of economic growth and emissions continues. The EU economy now emits half as much CO2 per unit of GDP as in 1990. These efficiency gains are largely thanks to significant investment in innovative low carbon technologies, showing that growth, employment and climate action can go hand in hand.
The annual progress report "EU and the Paris climate agreement: Taking stock of progress at Katowice COP", adopted today, shows that despite a slight growth in emissions in 2017, the EU remains firmly on track to meet its 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of a 20% reduction compared to 1990. However, there are still considerable challenges ahead, as emissions have decreased only slowly the past years.
Over the past 4 years, EU emissions were reduced by 3%. Most of the reduction has taken place in the energy supply sector where emissions are down by 11%, or 156 Mt, as compared to 2013. Lower emissions from energy use in buildings, waste management and energy use in industry have also contributed.
On the other hand, emissions from transport, agriculture and international aviation have increased over the last 4 years. Transport emissions have increased by 7%, or 60 Mt, as compared to 2013, mainly due to growing emissions from road transport. Emissions from industrial processes have varied from year to year, showing no clear trend.
To support the low carbon transition, the EU integrates climate aspects in its budget. In 2017, 20% of the EU budget was spent on climate-relevant action. The European Commission has proposed to increase this share in the next EU long-term budget to make 25% of all expenditure contribute to climate objectives in the period 2021-2027.
The auctioning of EU ETS allowances generated EUR 5.6 billion in revenues for the Member States in 2017. Around 80% of this was spent on climate and energy related purposes, for example investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
- Publication date
- 26 October 2018
- Directorate-General for Climate Action