Environment, Climate Change & Energy
The objective of the EU's environment policy is to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations. To achieve this it proposes policies that ensure a high level of environmental protection in the European Union and that preserve the quality of life of EU citizens (Environment Action Programme to 2020).
The EU also finances projects that contribute to environmental protection in the EU and. Since 1992 some 2,600 projects have received some financing from LIFE, the EU's fund for the environment.
Climate Change and Energy
Preventing dangerous climate change is a strategic priority for the European Union. Europe is working hard to cut its greenhouse gas emissions substantially while encouraging other nations and regions to do likewise.
The EU has long been a driving force in international negotiations on climate change and was instrumental in the development of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. Thanks to pressure from the EU and other progressive countries, UN negotiations are underway to draw up a new global climate agreement covering all countries to achieve greater cuts in global emissions over the rest of this decade. The aim is to keep global warming below 2°C compared to the temperature that prevailed in pre-industrial times. As part of the transition to the future global climate regime the EU is taking part in a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol running from 2013 to 2020.
Domestically, EU leaders have committed to transforming Europe into a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy. The EU has set itself targets for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions progressively up to 2050 and is working successfully towards meeting them. We have three key objectives for 2020, known as the "20-20-20" targets: (i) 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels; (ii) raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%; (iii) a 20% improvement in the EU's energy efficiency.
While the EU is making good progress towards meeting these climate and energy targets for 2020, an integrated policy framework for the period up to 2030 is crucial to ensure regulatory certainty for investors and a coordinated approach among Member States. On 23 October 2014, the European Council therefore adopted the new 2030 policy framework for climate and energy which include a package of four climate targets. Firstly, the EU set a domestic 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target of at least 40% compared to 1990. Moreover, the new 2030 policy framework includes the target of increasing the share of renewable energy in the energy mix to 27% and to increase energy savings by 27% by 2030. It also aims at increasing energy interconnections between member states by 15% in order to improve the functioning of the internal market for energy. The 2030 climate and energy package aims to build a competitive and secure energy system that ensures affordable energy for all consumers, increases the security of the EU's energy supplies, reduces our dependence on energy imports and creates new opportunities for growth and jobs.
In response to the political crisis in Ukraine and the overall importance of a stable and abundant supply of energy for the EU's citizens and economy, the European Commission has released an EU energy security strategy. In the short-term energy security stress tests were carried out to simulate a disruption in the gas supply. The strategy also proposes actions in five key areas:
- increasing energy efficiency and reaching the proposed 2030 energy and climate goals;
- increasing energy production in the EU and diversifying supplier countries and routes;
- completing the internal energy market and building missing infrastructure links;
- speaking with one voice in external energy policy;
- strengthening emergency and solidarity mechanisms and protecting critical infrastructure.