To prevent the most severe impacts of climate change, the international community has agreed that global warming should be kept below 2C compared to the temperature in pre-industrial times. That means a temperature increase of no more than 1.2C above today's level. To stay within this ceiling, the scientific evidence shows that the world must stop the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 at the latest, reduce them by at least half of 1990 levels by the middle of this century and continue cutting them thereafter.

For 2020, the EU has committed to cutting its emissions to 20% below 1990 levels. This commitment is one of the headline targets of the Europe 2020 growth strategy and is being implemented through a package of binding legislation. The EU has offered to increase its emissions reduction to 30% by 2020 if other major emitting countries in the developed and developing worlds commit to undertake their fair share of a global emissions reduction effort.

By 2030, the EU has committed to reducing emissions to 40% below 1990 levels. The Paris agreement saw most countries of the world committing to reducing emissions to attempt to halt the global temperature increase to2C. Unfortunately, projections show these efforts will not be enough to halt the increase to this level.

Looking further ahead to 2050, EU leaders have endorsed the objective of reducing Europe's greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% compared to 1990 levels as part of efforts by developed countries as a group to reduce their emissions by a similar degree. The European Commission has published a roadmap for building the low-carbon European economy that this will require.

The European Environment State and Outlook Report

The European Environment State and Outlook Synthesis Report (2015) is the latest report on the state of Europe’s environment, which is published by the European Environment Agency (EEA). One of the key messages contained in the report is that the EU has reduced its greenhouse gas emission and is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitments. However, global and European cuts in greenhouse gas emissions are far from sufficient to keep average world temperature increases below 2C. Adaptation measures to increase Europe’s resilience to climate change must be implemented. To download a full copy of the report, go to this link:


A significant portion of these reductions will be targeted through renewable energies. There is a mandatory target of 20% renewable energy by 2020, with a 10% biofuels target. Legally binding targets for each member state can be found on the EU website.

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