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How is Europe fighting against climate change?

Page Last modified 22 Dec 2021
3 min read
To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, European countries have developed national strategies, policies and accompanying measures to mitigate climate change. These include for example targets for greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors of the economy, promoting the use of renewable energy and low carbon fuels or efficiency improvements of buildings.

Key messages


  • The number of national policies and measures, reported by Member States to reduce GHG, increased by 11 % between 2019 and 2021. Most of the new reported policies and measures are at the planning stage.
  • Most climate change mitigation measures reported in 2021 are economic instruments (e.g., subsidies or feed-in tariffs) or regulations (e.g., energy efficiency standards), primary targeting energy-related GHG emissions.
  • The information reported on national policies and measures is becoming better and more complete, in particular on the GHG emission savings expected from these measures (ex ante). However, quantitative information on the emission savings actually achieved by implemented measures (ex post) remains insufficiently reported.

The European countries have reported altogether more than 2 200 policies and measures that focus on reducing or preventing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from various sectors, including the energy and transport sectors, agriculture, industrial processes, forestry and waste management.

The number of national policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions increased by 11 % between 2019 and 2021

According to the EEA's recent analysis, current policies and measures are expected to deliver a 34 % reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, while implementing all reported planned (additional) policies could the total net reduction to 41 %. Despite this good progress, further effort will be needed by the EU and its Member States to meet the 55 % net GHG reduction target by 2030.

Total number of existing and planned policies and measures reported by the EU27 in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021, and individual countries in 2021

 

Note: *non-EU countries

Source: Reportnet uploads for obligation "National greenhouse gas policies and measures" provided by the European Topic Centre on Climate Change Mitigation and Energy (ETC/CME), 2021.

Consult the latest ETC/CME report: 'Overview of reported national greenhouse gas policies and measures in Europe in 2021' for a complete analysis on national efforts to reduce GHG emissions.

 Explore our data on policies and measures


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The EEA's contribution

The European Environment Agency, together with its ETC/CME, collects and checks information sent by European countries on their national policies and measures. The EEA makes this information available via:

Supporting policy evaluation

Information reported by European countries on their climate policies is used to monitor climate action at a national level. It can also serve to assess and evaluate existing policies and to help inform decisions about new policies.

The briefing 'Using Member States’ information on policies and measures to support policymaking: energy efficiency in buildings’ illustrates how databases on policies and measures can support policy evaluation by presenting the results of two case studies analysing policies and measures targeting energy efficiency in buildings.

The ETC/CME report ‘Agricultural climate mitigation policies and measures. Good practice, challenges, and future perspectives explores which agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation policies and measures are implemented and planned by countries, why they have not effectively reduced overall emissions in recent years, and what further action is needed to help meet EU emissions targets.

A good starting point to evaluate a policy is to look how others evaluated similar interventions, what are the most common elements, approaches or methodologies. Find nearly 600 evaluations in the field of environment and climate policies across Europe in our catalogue.

Open and accessible data on public policies evaluations enable decision makers to get valuable information not only for the design of evaluation projects, but also to get inspiring feedbacks from their peers to support public policy making. The EEA catalogue of European environment and climate policy evaluations offer a knowledge-sharing platform to them. It is a useful tool to get an overview of the methodologies and approaches to the policy evaluations. And finally, the catalogue shows which areas are best covered by policies, since a lack of evaluation might indicate lack of policy action.

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