The European Union (EU) has a key role in the field of climate and energy policy. This is because climate change is a transboundary problem, which no nation state or subnational actor can solve on its own. Climate and energy policy as part of environmental policy is thus a shared competence of the Community and its Member States. Climate mitigation has meanwhile become one of the priorities of the European Union. The Paris Agreement represents the guiding principle or yardstick for respective efforts. Therefore, the European Union aims to limit global average temperature rise to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and to pursue efforts to reach even 1.5°C.
Regarding to the formulation of concrete measures and the definition of objectives, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council need to come to an agreement – just like the usual procedure for policy-making on the European level. On this basis, the European Union has set itself different targets for 2020 and 2030, and it aims to reach climate neutrality in 2050 all over the European Union.
Climate protection measures of the European Union
The main instruments in order to achieve the emission reduction targets are the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme and the burden sharing among Member States. In addition, there are – amongst other things – various directives in the fields of renewable energies or energy efficiency, which Member States have to transpose into national law. The following box provides an overview of some of these measures.
The European Green Deal
The European Commission presented its "European Green Deal" in December 2019. With this communication, the Commission aims to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 and to give a high priority to environmental and climate protection. Accordingly, the European Green Deal represents a new growth strategy to “transform the European Union into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy” and with no net greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Green Deal covers almost all areas of the economy and spheres of life. It includes a vast amount of announcements for new initiatives, action plans and strategies. In March 2020, for example, the European Commission has already presented a proposal for a “European climate law". The following series of pictures presents the main elements of the Green Deal under the different chapters. Due to the corona pandemic, there may be shifts in the timetables.