Climate Action

Progress made in cutting emissions


EU target of at least 40 % in 2030 compared to 1990

In 2015, the EU was responsible for 10% of world greenhouse gas emissions. Emissions in the EU were reduced by 22% between 1990 and 2015 while the economy grew by 50% over the same period.

After the recent ratification and entry into force, the EU is already putting in place legislation to achieve the commitment it made in Paris to reduce emissions by at least 40 % in 2030 compared to 1990. The proposed legislation includes tightening the EU emissions trading system (ETS) for the period after 2020; binding emissions targets for Member States for sectors outside the ETS for the period 2021 to 2030; and the inclusion of land use, land use change and forestry into the EU's emission-reduction efforts for the same period.

The EU's progress report ("Implementing the Paris Agreement – Progress of the EU towards the at least -40% target") shows that the EU remains firmly on course to reach its 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. After an emissions drop of 4% in the previous year, 2015 saw a slight rebound of 0.7%. While the EU’s industrial emissions continued to decline, transport emissions increased and emissions from space heating were higher this year after an unusual warm winter in the year before.

The EU is also a global leader in helping developing countries to implement their commitments under the Paris Agreement. In 2015, its climate finance contribution increased by more than 20% with a total support of EUR 17.6 billion.

EU 2020 targets

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

  • In 2015, EU emissions were 22% 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; where emissions are estimated to be 26% below 1990 levels.

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

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.

Kyoto targets

The EU and its Member States have met their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period. Also, the EU is on track to meet its targets under the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Further details in the below links:

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.


 Annual reports on progress towards achieving the Kyoto objectives