The EU voluntarily committed to stabilising its emissions of CO2 at the 1990 level by 2000, a target it succeeded in achieving. It was also instrumental in negotiating and implementing the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and its 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 countries that made up the EU at the time took on a particularly ambitious target: to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels by 2012. This overall target has been translated into a specific legally binding target for each Member State based on its capacity to curb emissions. Of the 12 countries that have joined the EU since 2004, all except Cyprus and Malta have individual emission targets under the Protocol.
By the end of 2005, emissions from the EU-15 were 1.5% below 1990 levels, while combined emissions from all 27 of today's Member States stood at 7.9% lower.
Kyoto targets in the EU (to be reached by 2012)
Contributions of each EU-15 Member State to the collective 8% emissions reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol
EU Member States with individual emissions reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol
In December 2008, EU Member States adopted a series of ambitious targets as part of a package of concrete measures to fight climate change.
These include a commitment to cut, by 2020, overall EU greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels and increase the share of renewable energy in energy consumption to 20% across the EU. Each Member State has an individual target reflecting its potential to generate renewable energy. The EU emissions reduction target will be increased to 30% if other developed countries agree to do the same in a global agreement.
A common target for all Member States is to reach 10% of biofuels in transport in the EU by 2020, with a set of clear rules to ensure this is done in a sustainable way.
There are also individual targets for each Member State to reduce emissions from buildings, transport, agriculture and waste by an average of 10% below 2005 levels by 2020.
Read more about the ‘Climate action and renewable energy package ’.