EU climate change policy

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European environment policy rests on the principles of precaution, prevention and rectifying pollution at source, and on the ‘polluter pays’ principle. Multiannual environmental action programmes set the framework for future action in all areas of environment policy. They are embedded in horizontal strategies and taken into account in international environmental negotiations. Last but not least, implementation is crucial.

The European Union (EU) is among the leading major economies when it comes to tackling greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. By 2018, it had cut GHG emissions by 23% compared to 1990 levels, and it is committed to achieving a 40% cut by 2030. In December 2019, the European Commission presented the European Green Deal and is now proposing a package of measures aimed at increasing its GHG emission reduction ambition for 2030 and decarbonising the EU’s economy by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement. In order to put the EU on a balanced pathway towards carbon neutrality by 2050, in September 2020 the Commission proposed to raise the climate ambition of the GHG emission reduction target to 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. (find out more)