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LIFE Climate Action



What is LIFE?

LIFE is the EU's funding programme for the environment and climate action for the period 2014-2020. It is divided into two programming periods: 2014-2017 and 2018-2020. The legal basis for LIFE is Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013. The LIFE Programme is divided in two sub-programmes: the sub-programme for environment and the sub-programme for climate action.

Why has a specific sub-programme been established for climate action?

The EU is committed to fighting climate change and has set climate and energy targets for 2020. It must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, boost the share of renewable sources in the energy mix to 20% and improve energy efficiency by 20%. European heads of state and governments have also committed to reduce the EU's emissions by 80-95 % by 2050. This will require increased climate action and specific investments in all sectors of the European economy. LIFE Climate Action aims to add value to EU efforts to combat climate change by focusing on specific climate challenges by piloting or testing new technologies, systems and approaches that can help leverage private finance.The most important change is that the new LIFE Programme will be composed of two sub-programmes: one for Environment and one for Climate Action. The creation of a sub-programme for Climate Action upgrades the former thematic strand "climate change" under the LIFE+ Environment Policy and Governance component to reflect the increased political priority of climate policy in the EU.

What are the main objectives of the LIFE sub-programme for climate action?

The main objectives of LIFE Climate Action are to:

  • Contribute to the shift towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy;
  • Improve the development, implementation and enforcement of EU climate change policy and legislation;
  • Support better environmental and climate change governance at all levels; and
  • Support the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme.

What priority areas does the sub-programme focus on?

The LIFE Climate Action sub-programme has three priority areas.

LIFE Priority areaFocus
LIFE Climate change mitigationReducing greenhouse gas emissions
LIFE Climate change adaptationIncreasing resilience to climate change
LIFE Climate change governance and InformationIncreasing awareness, communication, cooperation and dissemination of information on climate mitigation and adaptation actions

What are the objectives of the priority on mitigation?

The aim is to contribute to the transition towards a low-emission and climate-resilient economy. Testing new approaches to climate change mitigation will be an essential aspect for making this shift. The priority area has the following specific objectives:

  • to contribute to the implementation and development of EU policy and legislation on climate change mitigation, including its integration across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practice and solutions for climate change mitigation;
  • to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective climate change mitigation actions and measures and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;
  • to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for climate change mitigation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level;

to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative climate change mitigation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

What are the objectives of the priority on adaptation?

With a view to contributing to supporting efforts leading to increased resilience to climate change, this priority area has the following specific objectives:

  • to contribute to the development and implementation of EU policy on climate change adaptation, including its integration across policy areas, in particular by developing, testing and demonstrating policy or management approaches, best practice and solutions for climate change adaptation, including, where appropriate, ecosystem-based approaches;
  • to improve the knowledge base for the development, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and implementation of effective climate change adaptation actions and measures, prioritising, where appropriate, those applying an ecosystem-based approach, and to enhance the capacity to apply that knowledge in practice;
  • to facilitate the development and implementation of integrated approaches, such as for climate change adaptation strategies and action plans, at local, regional or national level, prioritising, where appropriate, ecosystem-based approaches;
  • to contribute to the development and demonstration of innovative climate change adaptation technologies, systems, methods and instruments that are suitable for being replicated, transferred or mainstreamed.

What are the objectives of the governance and information priority area?

This priority area aims to contribute to the development and implementation of EU climate policy and legislation. Projects seeking finance must have a European added value dimension (e.g. transnationality, synergies, multi-purpose projects,) and complement actions that can be financed under other EU funds during the period 2014-2020.

The specific objectives are:

  • to promote awareness raising on climate matters, including generating public and stakeholder support of EU policy- making in the field of the climate, and to promote knowledge on sustainable development;
  • to support communication, management, and dissemination of information in the field of the climate and to facilitate knowledge sharing on successful climate solutions and practice, including by developing cooperation platforms among stakeholders and training;
  • to promote and contribute to more effective compliance with and enforcement of EU climate legislation, in particular by promoting the development and dissemination of best practices and policy approaches;

to promote better climate governance by broadening stakeholder involvement, including NGOs, in consultation on and implementation of policy.

What are the significant features of the LIFE Programme?

  • LIFE is the only EU financial instrument fully dedicated to the environment and climate action;
  • LIFE is a catalyst: it provides a platform for the development and exchange of best practice and knowledge, thereby improving, catalysing and accelerating changes;
  • LIFE is a good instrument for showing regional and national authorities the benefits of investing in environment and climate action and provides an incentive for them to develop strategic frameworks for spending;
  • LIFE has successfully tackled environmental challenges since 1992.

What are the main new elements in the new LIFE programme compared to the previous one?

  • The new LIFE Programme builds on the success of its predecessor, LIFE+, but is more strategic and more flexible;
  • LIFE is composed of two sub-programmes: one for environment and one for climate action;
  • LIFE provides a clearer definition of the activities funded for each priority area, clarifying grey areas and addressing stakeholders' concerns;
  • A new type of projects, “integrated projects” has been created;
  • LIFE will introduce new financial instruments implemented via the European Investment Bank and local banks;
  • There will be no national allocations of budget pre-defined for Member States in the Climate Action sub-programme.

What is the budget of the LIFE Programme?

The overall budget for the implementation of the LIFE Programme is €3.457 billion for the period 2014-2020, 75% of which is allocated to the sub-programme for environment (€2,592,491,250) and 25% to the sub-programme for climate action (€864,163,750). €449.2 million is allocated to climate action for 2014-2017. Of this, €44.26 million will be available for the 2014 call for proposals.

Information for applicants

For applicants

Who can submit a project proposal?

A proposal can be submitted by any legal person registered in the European Union.

Applicants fall into three types of beneficiaries: (1) public bodies, (2) private commercial organisations and (3) private non-commercial organisations (including NGOs).

The term "public bodies" refers to national public authorities, regardless of their form of organisation – central, regional or local structure – or the various bodies under their control, provided these operate on behalf of and under the responsibility of the national public authority concerned. In the case of entities registered as private bodies wishing for the purpose of this call to be considered as equivalent to "public law bodies", they should provide evidence that they comply with all criteria applicable to bodies governed by public law. In the event the organisation stops its activities, its rights and obligations, liability and debts will be transferred to a public body. The applicant must show its legal status confirming legal registration in the EU.

How, where and when can I submit a proposal?

Applicants for LIFE funding for action grant projects must submit their proposals using the web tool eProposal on the call website. The application tool contains all administrative, technical and financial forms required, and allows applicants to attach relevant documents (maps, photos, diagrams, graphs, mandatory administrative and financial annexes). For complete details regarding the use of the eProposal tool and the application forms, please refer to the Guidelines for applicants 2014pdf(803 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  .

Those wishing to apply for action grants must submit their proposal via eProposal before 16:00 Brussels local time on 16 October 2014.

What are action grant projects?

According to the LIFE Regulation, LIFE Climate Change Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation, projects must be pilot, demonstration or best practice projects.

A pilot project aims to assess the effectiveness of the method, to inform other stakeholders of the results and to encourage them, where appropriate, to use the techniques and methods successfully tested in the project.

For demonstration projects to achieve the required EU added value, they must be designed to demonstrate whether or not the target techniques and methods work in the project's context (geographical, ecological, socio-economic). A successful demonstration project is available to all potential stakeholders and aims to encourage other stakeholders to use the techniques and methods demonstrated in the project. Demonstration projects may have a higher EU added value if they take place on a national or transnational level, rather than on a local scale.

As regards the demonstration scale, the project should be implemented on a technical scale that allows the evaluation of the technical and economic viability of the proposed pilot on a larger scale. The proposal must justify the choice of scale for the project in light of the above. In particular, for projects developing decision support systems, planning tools or the like, there has to be a specific project action implementing the tool to demonstrate its technical and economic viability and to enable a comparison with the baseline situation.

Note that the application of an established best practice action/methodology in a particular geographical region where it has not been applied before is considered to be a best practice activity. A best practice project is one that is available to all potential stakeholders to adopt and that illustrates how this can be done.

LIFE Climate Action information, awareness and dissemination projects must meet one or more of the general objectives of the climate governance and information priority area. The projects need to have a clear intended application of information, awareness and dissemination activities and need to clearly outline the intended improvements.

All projects need to contribute to the general objectives of the LIFE programme. This means that the climate advantages demonstrated by the project need to have a clear intended application and a potential impact towards achieving a low emission and climate-resilient society and/or the integration of climate objectives into the public and private sector.

For the duration of the first LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017, the maximum EU co-financing rate for LIFE action grant projects is 60% of the total eligible project costs.

What are capacity building projects?

Capacity building projects provide financial support to activities required to build the capacity of Member States, including LIFE national or regional contact points, with a view to enabling Member States to participate more effectively in the LIFE Programme. A specific call for capacity building projects will be launch on 18 June 2014 and will remain open until the 3rd quarter of 2015 with specific deadlines for sending in an application. Only one capacity building project will be funded per eligible Member State.

What are operating grants for non-governmental organisations (NGOs)?

Operating grants will be made available for non-governmental organisations that are primarily active in the field of climate action and/or environment.

The objective of this call for proposals is to co-finance the operational and administrative costs of EU level climate and/or environmental NGOs in relation to activities, provided for in their annual work programme, that involve contributing to the implementation and/or development of EU environmental and/or climate policy and legislation in the EU. The expected result is to strengthen civil society participation in the dialogue process of environmental and/or climate policy development and implementation.
The priorities for the 2015 call for proposals are the following:
• To protect, conserve and enhance the Union’s natural capital
• To turn the Union into a resource-efficient, green and competitive low-carbon and climate resilient economy
• To safeguard the Union’s citizens from environment and/or climate-related pressures and risks to health and wellbeing
• To increase the Union's effectiveness in addressing international climate related challenges

A call for operating grants for NGOs will be launched on the 3rd September 2014 by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) and published on its webpage:


Provisional Calendar
Launching of call3 September 2014
Deadline15 October 2014, 16:00 Brussels local time
Notification of resultsFebruary 2015
Revision and verification periodFebruary/March 2015
Closure of the selection round and dispatch of grant agreement to successful applicantsApril 2015

What are the new integrated projects?

These are projects that implement climate plans or strategies required by specific EU climate legislation on a large scale, in particular, regional, multi-regional, national or trans-national level. These should focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation, while ensuring involvement of stakeholders and promoting the coordination with and mobilisation of at least one other relevant EU, national or private funding source. For climate mitigation, integrated projects could, for example, focus on strategies to reduce greenhouse gases, the low carbon economy, and climate adaptation (e.g. climate resilient society).

For the climate action sub-programme, the first call for proposals for integrated projects will be in spring 2015. However, as integrated projects need intensive preparation and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, early preparation of proposals is recommended.

In 2015, a call for technical assistance projects will also be launched. The aim is to use these for the preparation of integrated projects that can be submitted in the following year.

What is the timetable for calls in 2014 and 2015?

Project typeLaunch dateDeadline
Action grant projects18 June 201416 October 2014, 16:00 (Brussels local time)
Capacity building projects18 June 2014On a rolling basis, no later than 30 September 2015
Operating grants for NGOs3 September 2014 15 October 2014, 16:00 (Brussels local time)
Integrated projects on climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies and action plans2015 (tbc)2015 (tbc)
Technical assistance projects for preparation of integrated projects2015 (tbc) 
Preparatory projects for the development and implementation of Union environmental or climate policy and legislation.2015 (tbc)2015 (tbc)

What is the optimal starting date and duration of a project?

When planning a project, beneficiaries should be aware that the expected date of signature of grant agreements for the LIFE 2014 projects will be May/June 2015. The earliest possible starting date for these projects is 16 July 2015.

Where can a LIFE project take place?

LIFE projects take place principally in the territory of the European Union Member States. The LIFE Programme may also finance activities outside the EU and in overseas countries and territories (OCTs), provided that the coordinating beneficiary is based in the EU. Strong evidence must be provided that the activities to be carried out outside the EU are necessary to achieve EU climate objectives and to ensure the effectiveness of actions carried out in the Member State territories to which the Treaties apply.

How will the new LIFE Programme make use of other financial instruments?

Besides the possibility to receive action grants or operating grants for projects, funding will also be channelled through two pilot financial instruments, the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) and the Private Finance for Energy Efficiency (PF4EE) to incentivise private finance through loans and guarantees.

The PF4FF is implemented through local banks and in close synergy with national energy efficiency action plans. It will incentivise banks to provide loans to energy efficiency investments in the range of €40,000 to €5 million.

The NCFF provides financing opportunities in the form of loans or equity investments for revenue-generating or cost-saving pilot projects promoting the preservation of natural capital, including eco-system based adaptation projects.

Who is the Contracting Authority for the new LIFE-programme?

The Contracting Authority is the European Commission's Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME). Most implementation tasks are delegated to EASME, (for example, the selection and monitoring of projects), while the Commission remains responsible for the governance of the programme.

Where can I find more information on the LIFE programme?

More information and necessary documents about the LIFE sub-programme for Climate Action in general, the recent call and how to apply can be found on the LIFE Climate Action webpage. Applicants may wish also to consult the relevant national contact point, when preparing a proposal.