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Progress made in cutting emissions

In 2012, the EU was responsible for 9% of world greenhouse gas emissions. This share is falling as Europe reduces its own emissions, and those from other parts of the world grow – especially major emerging economies.


The EU is well on track towards meeting its emissions reduction targets for 2020, set under the 2020 climate & energy package and the Kyoto Protocol.

EU targets

The EU is on track to meet the 20% target for 2020:

  • In 2014, EU emissions were 24% below 1990 levels.
  • According to national projections, emissions will further decrease until 2020, but additional policies will need to be implemented to achieve the 2030 target.

The 2020 target excludes emissions from the land sector but includes emissions from international aviation.

The EU has achieved emissions cuts while expanding its economy. The EU's GDP grew by 48% between 1990 and 2014, while its emissions intensity (the amount of emissions to produce a euro of economic value) was reduced by almost half.

Robust policies at EU and country level have contributed to the cuts achieved and the uptake of low-carbon technologies. Evaluations confirm that innovation, including progress on renewable energy and energy efficiency, is the main driver behind the emission reductions in recent years, while the shift between economic sectors has had a marginal effect.

The EU reports annually on its progress on climate action as part of the Energy Union Framework Strategy. The first State of the Energy Union report shows that much progress has already been made.

Kyoto targets

The EU is on track to meet its targets under the Kyoto Protocol, which break down into 2 different periods:

The Kyoto targets are different from the EU's own 2020 targets – they:

  • cover different sectors – for instance, land use, land use change & forestry (LULUCF) but not international aviation.
  • measure against different years (base years) – not always 1990
  • require the EU to keep its emissions at an average of 20% below base-year levels over the whole second period (2013-2020), not only by 2020

Monitoring & reporting

Every year, the Commission publishes its climate action progress report. It also reports regularly to the UN.