EU Efforts to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

The EU’s initiatives within the climate area ensure an 8% mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions for 2008-12, and 20% in 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

In connection with the signing of the Kyoto Protocol, the EU-15 has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 8% for the period 2008-12 compared with 1990 levels. Read more about how the countries have distributed the efforts among themselves: The EU's Burden Sharing Agreement 2008-2012.

Starting in 2005, the EU implemented an Emission Trading Scheme as one of the most important tools for meeting the requirements in the Kyoto requirements.

In December 2008, the European Council adopted the so-called Climate and Energy Package, which stipulates the target of a greenhouse gas emission mitigation in the EU of 20% by 2020 compared to the 1990 level. This improves how the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme works, as trade allowances starting 2013 will be determined at EU level, and how the trade system will be harmonised.

In addition, mitigation targets have been set for member states’ greenhouse gas emissions in the non-ETS sectors for the period 2013-20. Read more about the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from non-ETS sectors after 2012.

In May 2010, the European Commission published a communication with an analysis whether it was possible to increase the EU’s mitigation target. The European Commission concluded that the financial crisis has resulted in a significant mitigation of the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that the expected costs related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% have become significantly lower than what was expected prior to the financial crisis.

Even though the European Commission finds that renewable energy sources and energy efficiency are the most sustainable methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it finds that there also is an important potential for reducing CO2 emissions by capturing and storing CO2 from power plants in underground reservoirs.

Finally, the mitigation efforts focus on cars, which are among the largest sources of CO2 emissions. In order to reduce vehicular CO2 emissions, the EU has for a number a years had voluntary agreements in place with car manufacturers. However, in 2007 the EU states concluded that the voluntary agreements did not have sufficient impact, and it was therefore necessary to stipulate requirements for the car manufacturers. Read more about CO2 performance standards for passenger cars and light goods vehicles.

Latest update: 20. February 2012