Representation in Ireland

Climate change


Image from the cover of the report

The European Commission today adopted the 2018 edition of the General Report.

The report shows how the EU is delivering on its commitments to Europeans.

In 2018, after nearly 6 years of continuous growth, 239 million Europeans were at work – more than ever before. 12.4 million jobs have now been created since 2014, with unemployment dropping to 6.8% and youth unemployment back to 2008 levels. The Juncker Investment Plan for Europe has mobilised over €370 billion in investment across Europe. 



The EU continued to lead the fight against climate change, playing an instrumental role at the UN Climate Conference in Katowice in December to make the Paris Agreement operational. The Commission backed its action by proposing a Clean Planet for all setting a long-term vision for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. 

In 2018, the EU signed a trade deal with Japan and reached a new agreement on trade with Mexico. 600,000 jobs in Europe are tied to exports to Japan, and 400,000 jobs rely on exports to Mexico.

On migration, following the peak in arrivals to the EU in 2015, flows went back to below pre-crisis levels. The Commission also presented new proposals to further strengthen the European Border and Coast Guard.

The General Report is prepared in all official languages of the EU. It will be available from 13 March as a fully illustrated book and in an interactive online version.

Download the report here.


Commissioner Arias Cañete presenting the Strategy

Today the European Commission adopted a strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050 – A Clean Planet for all.

The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research – while ensuring social fairness for a just transition.


Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete said: "The EU has already started the modernisation and transformation towards a climate neutral economy. And today, we are stepping up our efforts as we propose a strategy for Europe to become the world's first major economy to go climate neutral by 2050. Going climate neutral is necessary, possible and in Europe's interest. It is necessary to meet the long-term temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. It is possible with current technologies and those close to deployment. And it is in Europe's interest to stop spending on fossil fuel imports and invest in meaningful improvements to the daily lives of all Europeans. No European, no region should be left behind. The EU will support those more impacted by this transition so that everyone's ready to adapt to the new requirements of a climate neutral economy.”

Following the invitation by the European Council in March 2018, the Commission's vision for a climate-neutral future covers nearly all EU policies and is in line with the Paris Agreement objective to keep temperature increase to well below 2°C, and pursue efforts to keep it to 1.5°C. For the EU to lead the world towards climate neutralitymeans achieving it by 2050.

The purpose of this long-term strategy is not to set targets, but to create a vision and sense of direction, plan for it, and inspire as well as enable stakeholders, researchers, entrepreneurs and citizens alike to develop new and innovative industries, businesses and associated jobs. We have a strong mandate from our citizens: according to the latest special Eurobarometer (November 2018) 93% of Europeansbelieve climate change to be caused by human activity and 85% agree thatfighting climate change and using energy more efficiently can create economic growth and jobs in Europe. With the vision we are presenting today, the EU can inform others how we can deliver collectively a clean planet and show that transforming our economy is possible and beneficial.

The long-term strategy looks into the portfolio of options available for Member States, business and citizens, and how these can contribute to the modernisation of our economy and improve the quality of life of Europeans. It seeks to ensure that this transition is socially fair and enhances the competitiveness of EU economy and industry on global markets, securing high quality jobs and sustainable growth in Europe, while also helping address other environmental challenges, such as air quality or biodiversity loss.

The road to a climate neutral economy would require joint action in seven strategic areas: energy efficiency; deployment of renewables; clean, safe and connected mobility; competitive industry and circular economy; infrastructure and interconnections; bio-economy and natural carbon sinks; carbon capture and storage to address remaining emissions. Pursuing all these strategic priorities would contribute to making our vision a reality.

The next steps:

The European Commission invites the European Council, the European Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee to consider the EU vision for a climate neutral Europe by 2050. In order to prepare EU Heads of State and Government for shaping the Future of Europe at the European Council on 9 May 2019 in Sibiu, ministers in all relevant Council formations should hold extensive policy debates on the contribution of their respective policy areas to the overall vision.

The long-term strategy is an invitation to all EU institutions, the national parliaments, business sector, non-governmental organisations, cities and communities, as well as citizens - and especially the youth, to participate in ensuring the EU can continue to show leadership and hold other international partners to do the same. This EU-wide informed debate should allow the EU to adopt and submit an ambitious strategy by early 2020 to the UNFCCC as requested under the Paris Agreement.

Member States will submit to the European Commission, by the end of 2018, their draft National Climate and Energy Plans, which are central for the achievement of the 2030 climate and energy targets and which should be forward-looking and take into account in the EU long term strategy. In addition, an increasing number of regions, municipalities and business associations are drawing up their own vision for 2050 which will enrich the debate and contribute to defining Europe's answer to the global challenge of climate change.

Internationally, over the coming year the EU should expand its cooperation closely with its international partners, so that all parties to the Paris Agreement develop and submit a long-term national mid-century strategy by 2020 in the light of the recent IPCC Special report on 1.5̊ Celsius.

Today the high level panel of independent experts on decarbonisation pathways - an advisory body to Commissioner Moedas - has published a report on the role of research and innovation in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement while putting the EU at a competitive advantage in the decarbonisation race. The report underpins the vision as presented in today's communication.


More information

Questions and Answers: Long term strategy for Clean Planet for All 

Factsheet on the Long Term Strategy Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction

Factsheet on the Economic Transition

Factsheet on the Industrial Transition

Factsheet on the Social Transition

Clean Planet for All: long-term strategy on the Europa website, including the text of the Commission's Communication

Special Eurobarometer 479 Future of Europe

Report by the High-Level Panel of the European Decarbonisation Pathways Initiative

The European Commission has welcomed the final report by its High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (HLEG), which sets out strategic recommendations for a financial system that supports sustainable investments.

The Commission will now move to finalise its strategy on sustainable finance on the basis of these recommendations. Delivering an EU strategy on sustainable finance is a priority action of the Commission's Capital Markets Union (CMU) Action Plan, as well as one of the key steps towards implementing the historic Paris Agreement and the EU's Agenda for sustainable development. To achieve the EU's 2030 targets agreed in Paris, including a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions, we need around €180 billion of additional investments a year. The financial sector has a key role to play in reaching those goals, as large amounts of private capital could be mobilised towards such sustainable investments. The Commission is determined to lead the global work in this area and help sustainability-conscious investors to choose suitable projects and companies.


Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: "The signature of the Paris agreement in 2015 marked a milestone for the world and for the global economy. We are now moving towards a low-carbon society, where renewable energy and smart technologies improve our quality of life, spurring job creation and growth, without damaging our planet. Finance has a big role to play in funding a sustainable future. I welcome the outstanding work of the HLEG which is excellent input for our upcoming strategy."

Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness said: "The EU is already at the forefront of investing in resource efficiency and social infrastructure, not least through the European Fund for Strategic Investments and its reinforced focus on climate action. At the same time, creating an enabling framework for private investors is crucial to achieving the transition to a cleaner, more resource-efficient, circular economy. The HLEG's final report provides us with a roadmap to do just that and we welcome their invaluable contribution to this very important issue."

Today's final report by the High-Level Expert Group maps out the challenges and opportunities that the EU faces in developing a sustainable finance policy. It identifies ways in which the financial sector can re-connect with the real economy to support the transition to a more resource-efficient and more circular economy. The group argues that reorienting investment flows into long-term, sustainable projects will also improve the stability of the financial system.

The report proposes:

  • a classification system, or 'taxonomy', to provide market clarity on what is 'sustainable'

  • clarifying the duties of investors' when it comes to achieving a more sustainable financial system

  • improving disclosure by financial institutions and companies on how sustainability is factored into their decision-making

  • an EU-wide label for green investment funds

  • making sustainability part of the mandates of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs)

  • a European standard for green bonds.

The group's report will form the basis of the Commission's comprehensive Action Plan on sustainable finance that it will put forward in the coming weeks. Both the findings of the report and the Commission's Action Plan will be discussed at a high-level conference on 22 March 2018 in Brussels.


The European Union has taken the lead in efforts to build a financial system that supports sustainable growth. In 2015, landmark international agreements were established with the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement. The EU has set itself ambitious climate, environmental and sustainability targets, through its 2030 Energy and Climate framework, the Energy Union and its Circular Economy Action Plan.

These commitments, and the growing awareness of the urgency to address environmental challenges and sustainability risks, call for an effective EU strategy on sustainable finance. The Commission established the independent High-Level Expert Group in December 2016. It is made of 20 senior experts from civil society, the finance sector, academia and observers from European and international institutions. It is chaired by Christian Thimann.

The work on a number of the report's key recommendations is already well underway, as they were discussed in the group's interim report of 13 July 2017. The Commission has proposed the inclusion of environmental, social and governance (ESG factors) in the mandates of the European Supervisory Authorities. The Commission has also conducted between 13 November 2017 and 22 January 2018 a public consultation on institutional investors' and asset managers' duties regarding sustainability.

The HLEG has taken into account relevant work on climate, environmental and sustainable finance. This includes: the Guidelines on non-financial reporting adopted by the European Commission on 26 June 2017; and the final recommendations report published by the industry-led Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) on 29 June 2017. The group has also conducted a public consultation to gather views from relevant stakeholders and inform their final recommendations.


Wind farm

The European Commission has just published its 2030 emissions targets, broken down by Member State. Today's targets are expressed as a percentage reduction from 2005 emission levels. The targets range from 0% to -40%.


Ireland will have to reduce its emissions by 30%, relative to its 2005 emissions. There are 11 other Member States with higher targets, mostly the wealthier countries of the EU.

Ireland will have 4% one-off flexibility from emissions trading, at the highest end of the ranking. Ireland will have 5.6% flexibility from land use.  This is a substantially larger margin than any other Member State except Latvia.

EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete said: "The EU has an ambitious emissions reduction target, one I am convinced we can achieve through the collective efforts of all Member States. The national binding targets we are proposing are fair, flexible and realistic. They set the right incentives to unleash investments in sectors like transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management. With these proposals, we are showing that we have done our homework and that we keep our promises."

While the overall EU target is a reduction of 40% on 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, every Member State negotiates an individual target, and individual one-off flexibility from emissions trading and a margin of flexibility from land use. The negotiations take account of a range of factors and aim to share the burden of emissions reduction as fairly as possible.

Today's package of measures also includes a transport strategy aimed at moving Europe towards low-emission mobility. Financial support is available from existing mechanisms, with €70 billion available for transport under the European Structural and Investment Fund, among other options.

Further information

European Commission press release: Energy Union and Climate Action: Driving Europe’s transition to a low-carbon economy


Wind farms

A new EU survey shows that 91% of Irish respondents consider climate change to be a serious problem with 68% considering it a very serious problem. This compares to an EU average of 92% and a high of 97% in Greece.  The survey, which was carried out in March, also shows that 95% of Irish respondents take personal action to fight climate change, above the EU average of 90%.


The most common actions taken by Irish people were:  

  • reducing waste and regularly separating it for recycling (79% compared to an EU average of 71%);
  • cutting down on consumption of disposable items (66% compared to an EU average of 56%);
  • buying locally produced and seasonal food whenever possible (40% compared to an EU average of 41%);
  • taking energy consumption into account when buying household appliances (31% compared to an EU average of 37%);
  • insulating their home better (25% compared to an EU average of 18%)
  • regularly using environmentally-friendly alternatives to your private car such as walking, cycling, taking public transport or car-sharing (23% compared to an EU average of 26%).

The survey also shows that:

  • More than 4 in 10 (42%) Irish people think that climate change is single most serious problem facing the world (down 8 percentage points since 2015). This is just below the EU average of 43% but well below Sweden in top place at 76%. People in the Czech Republic (22%) were the least likely to see climate change as the single biggest issue facing the world.
  • 88% of Irish people believe more public financial support should be given to the transition to clean energies, third highest in the EU behind Malta (90%) and Greece (89%). The EU average is 79%.
  • 96% of Irish people think it is important for the government to set targets to increase the amount of renewable energy such as wind or solar power used by 2030, fourth highest in Europe behind Malta 99%, Cyprus 97% and Netherland 97%. The EU average is 89%. And 95% of Irish people (fourth highest in Europe) believe the government should support energy efficiency by for example encouraging people to insulate their homes or buy electric cars. The EU average is 88%.

Over one thousand people in Ireland were interviewed face-to-face for the survey between 18 and 27 March.

More information

Commission press release on the Eurobarometer on Climate Change

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