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Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / Environmental topics / Climate change
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File Sustainable cooling helps fight global warming
In Europe, summer heat waves are becoming harder to bear. The demand for air conditioning is on the rise, especially in office buildings. Yet buildings alone represent 40% of the EU's energy consumption, and air conditioning accounts for a significant part of it. In addition, air conditioning produces greenhouse gas emissions, aggravating global warming and putting at risk European climate protection commitments. The solution: reduce the energy requirements of existing air conditioning systems and change the way buildings are designed and used to achieve sustainable summer comfort without active cooling.
Located in Environmental topics Energy Multimedia
Climate change
Climate change is happening now: temperatures are rising, rainfall patterns are shifting, glaciers and snow are melting, and the global mean sea level is rising. We expect that these changes will continue, and that extreme weather events resulting in hazards such as floods and droughts will become more frequent and intense. Impacts and vulnerabilities for nature, the economy and our health differ across regions, territories and economic sectors in Europe. It is very likely that most of the warming since the mid -20th century is due to the observed increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations as a result of emissions from human activities. The global temperature has risen by about 0.8 ºC over the past 150 years, and is projected to increase further. Exceeding an increase of 2 °C above pre-industrial temperatures raises the risk of dangerous changes for global human and natural systems.
Located in Environmental topics Climate change
File Turning waste into resources
As Europe grows wealthier it creates more and more rubbish. Every man, woman and child in the EU generates over a kilo of waste every day. Multiply that figure by nearly half a billion EU citizens and it quickly becomes clear that managing our waste without harming the environment is a major headache.
Located in Environmental topics Waste and material resources Multimedia
File Living with Climate change
Global warming is happening. Temperatures have already risen by 0.76 degrees since the industrial revolution and are projected to rise further by 1.8 - 4 degrees by the end of the century. The last time climate change happened at this pace was 125,000 years ago and led to a 4-6 metre sea level rise. Global warming at the upper end of the scale predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would have catastrophic consequences for Europe. Up to 30% of plant, animal and bird species would be wiped out and the threat of natural disasters such as landslides, floods and mudslides would increase significantly.
Located in Environmental topics Climate change Multimedia
File Emissions trading - putting a price on carbon
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is a world first and a major weapon in Europe's fight against climate change. The innovative system has turned carbon dioxide emissions into a tradeable commodity. They can now be bought and sold like any other of the thousands of products traded on world markets today. The scheme works by placing a limit or a 'cap' on the amount of carbon dioxide participating installations - currently around 10,500 across the European Union - can emit every year. If an installation emits more than its allowance, it must either pay a very hefty fine or buy surplus allowances from companies that have managed to stay below their limit. The system ensures that overall CO2 emissions from the plants covered are cut in the most cost effective way.
Located in Environmental topics Climate change Multimedia
Publication Climate for a transport change. TERM 2007: indicators tracking transport and environment in the European Union
Located in Publications
File Repairing our ozone layer
In 1987, delegates from around the world signed the Montreal Protocol designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. This recent video illustrates the results of the Protocol, which is considered to be one of the most successful international environmental agreements.
Located in Environmental topics Air pollution Multimedia
File chemical/x-pdb 50 years of protecting Europe's environment
Today the European Union has the most environmentally friendly arsenal of rules in the world and has done more to tackle pressing ecological problems, such as climate change, than any other major power. But it has not always been like this. Caring for the environment did not feature in the Treaty of Rome, the document that gave birth to the modern day EU. Yet environmental problems were never far away. Europe’s love affair with the car was moving into top gear, industry was busy belching out pollutants and raw sewage was being pumped into our rivers and seas.
Located in Environmental topics Policy instruments Multimedia
File Halting the loss of Europe's biodiversity by 2010
42% of Europe’s native mammals are threatened with extinction, 43% of birds, 45% of butterflies, 52% of freshwater fish. The list goes on and makes terrifying reading. Worldwide, the loss of species is even more alarming.
Located in Environmental topics Biodiversity Multimedia
File Protecting the tree of life
Europe is a continent of breathtaking natural beauty and dramatic contrasts. The EU’s 27 Member States stretch from the frozen Arctic Circle in the north to the warm Mediterranean waters in the south. From the wave-lashed Atlantic coast in Ireland to the snow-capped Carpathian mountains in Romania, the EU includes a vast range of natural habitats and a great diversity of flora and fauna. Our natural heritage includes several thousand types of habitat, 520 species of bird, 10 000 plant species and at least 100 000 species of invertebrate. Yet, in comparison with other regions in the world, these numbers are relatively modest. Europe is the most urbanized and densely populated continent in the world. It is also one of the most polluted. These factors have taken their toll on the natural environment.
Located in Environmental topics Biodiversity Multimedia
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