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Our climate is changing because of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Despite notable emission reductions over the last decades, the EU must transform production and consumption systems to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
EU greenhouse gases in numbers
are released by the EU: 4th largest emitter
in 2020 compared to 1990 levels
compared to 1990 levels
Is Europe on track towards its 2030 targets?
Greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption rose in 2021 due mostly to Europe’s post-pandemic recovery. Most EU Member States successfully achieved the EU’s 2020 climate and energy targets and are now turning their sights toward climate neutrality while also addressing the current energy supply crisis.
In the coming years, substantial emissions reductions will need to be sustained year-on-year to achieve climate neutrality in the long term. With the European Climate law, the 2030 reduction target was increased to at least 55% net greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.
Methane and its warming potential
While emissions of methane across the European Union have decreased over past years, the overall reduction in emissions needs to accelerate to meet 2030 and 2050 EU climate objectives. Increased global efforts to reduce methane emissions would also be needed to mitigate global warming in the short term.
According to the latest available official data, emissions of methane were down by 36% in the EU in 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The largest reductions in emissions occurred in energy supply, which includes energy industries and fugitive (leaked or uncaptured) emissions (-65%), waste (-37%) and agriculture (-21%).
Europe's greenhouse gas data: explore emissions, projections sectors, countries and much more...
Our climate data to monitor Europe's progress
A robust reporting system is required to monitor progress toward EU climate change mitigation targets. The EEA is a key player in setting up these reporting systems, providing guidance to Member States on how to report and quality check the input. The EEA collects and provides access to the following types of data:
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories;
- Greenhouse gas projections;
- Policies and measures;
- National systems for GHG policies and measures and projections;
- Use of EU emissions trading system auctioning revenues;
- Information on support to developing countries;
- National climate change adaptation actions;
- Ozone-depleting substances;
- CO2 emissions from new passenger cars, vans and heavy-duty vehicles.
Much of the data comes from datasets collected by the EEA. This data is then used to fulfil the EU's own targets and to allow the European Commission to assess whether the Union is on track to meet its international pledges made in the United Nations setting.
How is Copernicus helping?
In simple terms, photosynthesis is the process through which trees and plants capture carbon from the atmosphere and release oxygen. This natural process happens to be one of our best allies and the most efficient technology to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Thanks to the EU's earth observation programme Copernicus, we get detailed information on what grows on the ground.
And knowing where vegetated areas are and what type of vegetation is growing there is crucial for calculating net greenhouse gas emissions.
Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, managed by the EEA and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, provides information on land cover types and land use. This data can assist national governments in achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions.