The European Union has long been committed to international efforts to tackle climate change and felt the duty to set an example through robust policy-making at home. At European level a comprehensive package of policy measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been initiated through the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP). Each of the EU Member States has also put in place its own domestic actions that build on the ECCP measures or complement them.
The European Commission has taken many climate-related initiatives since 1991, when it issued the first Community strategy to limit carbon dioxide (CO 2) emissions and improve energy efficiency. These include: a directive to promote electricity from renewable energy, voluntary commitments by car makers to reduce CO 2 emissions by 25% and proposals on the taxation of energy products.
However, it is clear that action by both Member States and the European Community needs to be reinforced if the EU is to succeed in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions to 8% below 1990 levels by 2008-2012, as required by the Kyoto protocol.
The EU Council of Environment Ministers acknowledged the importance of taking further steps at Community level by asking the Commission to put forward a list of priority actions and policy measures.
The Commission responded in June 2000 by launching the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP). The goal of the ECCP is to identify and develop all the necessary elements of an EU strategy to implement the Kyoto Protocol.
The development of the first ECCP (2000-2004) involved all the relevant groups of stakeholders working together, including representatives from the Commission’s different departments (DGs), the Member States, industry and environmental groups. The second European Climate Change Programme (ECCP II) was launched in October 2005.