EU leads in implementing Paris climate commitments


The European Union played a key role in brokering the world's first universal, legally binding climate deal in Paris in December 2015. Today, the EU is continuing to lead global efforts to deliver on the ambitious accord, the first major multilateral deal of the 21st century.

The Paris Agreement sets out a global plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by keeping global warming well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5 °C.

To achieve this, countries are required to submit comprehensive national climate action plans. The EU was the first major economy to table its commitment − a domestic emissions reduction target of at least 40 % by 2030. To date, 190 countries – accounting for 97 % of global emissions – have presented their plans.

The EU and other developed countries will continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries by pursuing their current collective target of mobilising USD 100 billion per year by 2020 and extending this until 2025, when a new goal will be set.

The Paris Agreement became international law on 4 November 2016, 30 days after the EU’s ratification pushed it past the threshold to take effect. This meant that the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement could be held during the UN climate change conference in Marrakech, which ran from 7-18 November.

Building on momentum

The Marrakech conference (COP22), dubbed the ‘action and implementation COP’, set out to demonstrate that commitments made in Paris were being put into practice, and to act as a catalyst for further action building on the momentum of the past year. The Marrakech Action Proclamation cements the political will to tackle climate change, sending a message of global unity and continued resolve to deliver on the Paris objectives.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said the progress in Marrakech was the clearest proof yet that the world is forging ahead on global climate action. “The message is clear: we will stand by Paris, we will defend Paris, and we will implement Paris,” he said. “The global clean energy transition is here to stay, and Europe will continue to lead the way towards a more sustainable and competitive economy.”

In Marrakech, countries made progress on the Paris rulebook − the essential elements that will guide the implementation of the agreement. This includes a common transparency and accountability system and a commitment to meet every five years to set more ambitious climate action targets as required by science.

The global clean energy transition is here to stay, and Europe will continue to lead the way towards a more sustainable and competitive economy.
Miguel Arias Cañete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy

Developed countries presented a roadmap providing increased predictability and transparency about the actions they are taking to achieve the USD 100 billion annual funding target, and affirmed their support for solidarity measures to help developing countries meet their objectives. This includes capacity-building initiatives to strengthen the skills and expertise needed to implement domestic climate plans.

EU Member States demonstrated their continued commitment to helping those most vulnerable to climate change impacts, pledging more than 90 % of the total amount currently available under the UN Adaptation Fund. The EU provides the largest amount of public money to developing countries for climate action. In 2015, the EU and its Member States provided EUR 17.6 billion to developing countries to tackle climate change.

Outside the UN process, there have also been developments on reducing emissions from aviation and shipping, as well as agreement on a global phase-down of climate-warming hydrofluorocarbon gases.

Driving the low-carbon transition

The EU’s efforts to deliver on its Paris pledge began even before the Paris conference with a proposal in July 2015 to revise the EU Emissions Trading System, the EU’s main policy instrument for reducing emissions.

To complement this, the European Commission presented a package of measures in July 2016 to accelerate the shift towards low carbon in all sectors of the European economy, proposing binding greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States from 2021-2030 for the transport, buildings, agriculture, waste, and land-use and forestry sectors.

The Clean Energy for All Europeans package launched in November 2016 will boost energy efficiency and renewables, modernise energy markets, maintain Europe’s competitiveness and provide significant benefits for consumers, contributing to EU efforts to spearhead the global clean energy revolution. In addition, the Commission has also presented plans for reliable and transparent governance of the Energy Union to help the EU meet its climate and energy policy goals.

“Having led global climate action in recent years, Europe is now setting an example by creating the conditions for sustainable jobs, growth and investment,” said Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President for the Energy Union. “These measures will equip all European citizens and businesses with the means to make the most of the clean energy transition."

Such initiatives place the EU ahead of the curve in implementing the Paris Agreement, but the hard work has only just begun. The ongoing dedication of all actors, including governments, businesses and citizens, to achieve a sustainable environment for current and future generations will be required to ensure a safe and sustainable future for the planet and its citizens.

Climate action