Page Last modified 20 Apr 2016
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GLOBE EU (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment) requested the European Environment Agency to prepare an assessment of the trends, state and outlook of the environmental theme climate change and the main related sectors ‘energy’ and ‘transport’ in the European Union (EU) for its conference Responding to Climate Change (Linz, Austria, 6 September 1996). This assessment does not include policy options open to European Countries and the European Union to mitigate climate change.

Due to the limited period available the Agency has prepared the requested assessment as an update of the assessment reported by the EEA in the state of the environment report Environment in the European Union - 1995; Report for the Review of the Fifth Environmental Action Programme. This update includes:

  • recent data on energy consumption and supply;
  • recent data on emissions and state of the environment;
  • recent information on Community actions, communications and conclusions;
  • new scientific insights (such as the 1995 Scientific report of the IPCC).

Data for this paper were provided by the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat), the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment and the Agency’s Topic Centre on Air Emissions. The paper was prepared by André Jol and Keimpe Wieringa. Technical comments were received from the European Commission. I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to these organisations for their co-operation.

The IPCC Second Assessment report showed both the scale of the problem and the urgent effort to be made, in particular by developed countries, including the EU, to achieve a more sustainable situation.

The findings of the present EEA report confirm that the EU is making progress in stabilising emissions of greenhouse gases. There is however considerable uncertainty whether the EU will meet the now considered humble target of stabilisation of CO2 emissions at 1990 levels by 2000. Current measures are insufficient to prevent a further increase in CO2 emissions after 2000, when substantial reductions are required.

Setting, agreeing and implementing substantial emission reduction targets, including appropriate action for the year 2010 and beyond appears the key for future climate change policy at EU level. That implies a much larger effort and, in general, accelerated and adequate EU policies in very controversial but relevant areas, such as energy and transport. This is required if the EU is to contribute efficiently to avoiding adverse effects on ecosystems and to assure at least, as the EU has declared, that the global average temperature should not exceed two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Adequate burden sharing strategies or approaches will also be required and agreed inside and beyond the EU to assure the achievement of sustainable development.

The Agency is building up a more operational environmental reporting system to support the policy process by providing timely information, as started with the Environment in the European Union - 1995 report and now reflected by this present report. In this way the Agency is planning to be increasingly able to report clearly on the environmental situation and above all the prospects and the scale of the efforts required.

Domingo Jiménez-Beltrán
Executive Director



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