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Green Deal: Overview

Highlights the key points of the Green Deal

A European Climate Pact

The involvement and commitment of the public and of all stakeholders is crucial to the success of the European Union to become climate neutral. Recent political events show that game-changing policies only work if citizens are fully involved in designing them. People are concerned about jobs, heating their homes and making ends meet, and EU institutions should engage with them if the Green Deal is to succeed and deliver lasting change. Citizens are and should remain a driving force of the transition. The Pact is an EU-wide initiative that invites people, communities and organisations to:

  • Connect and share knowledge
  • Learn about climate change
  • Develop, implement and scale up solution

Climate Strategies & Targets

The EU has set itself targets to progressively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions up to 2050. The key climate and energy targets are set in the:

These targets have been defined to put the EU on the path towards becoming a climate-neutral economy as detailed in the 2050 long-term strategy and proposed under the Climate Law.

The EU tracks its progress on cutting emissions through regular monitoring and reporting.

European Climate Law

The Commission’s proposal for the first European Climate Law aims to write into law the goal set out in the European Green Deal – for Europe’s economy and society to become climate-neutral by 2050. This means achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions for EU countries as a whole, mainly by cutting emissions, investing in green technologies and protecting the natural environment. The law aims to ensure that all EU policies contribute to this goal and that all sectors of the economy and society play their part.

The objectives are simple: 

  • Set the long-term direction of travel for meeting the 2050 climate-neutrality objective through all policies, in a socially-fair and cost-efficient manner
  • Create a system for monitoring progress and take further action if needed
  • Provide predictability for investors and other economic actors
  • Ensure that the transition to climate neutrality is irreversible

Key elements of the European Climate Law

The Climate Law includes measures to keep track of progress and adjust our actions accordingly, based on existing systems such as the governance process for Member States’ national energy and climate plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts.

Progress will be reviewed every five years, in line with the global stocktake exercise under the Paris Agreement.

The Climate Law also addresses the necessary steps to get to the 2050 target:

  • Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission has proposed a new EU target for 2030 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to levels in 1990. The Commission has proposed to include the new EU 2030 target in the Law.
  • By June 2021, the Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030.
  • The Commission proposes the adoption of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, to measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizens.
  • By September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory.
  • The Commission will be empowered to issue recommendations to Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective, and Member States will be obliged to take due account of these recommendations or to explain their reasoning if they fail to do so.
  • Member States will also be required to develop and implement adaptation strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change

Progress made in cutting emissions

The EU is well on track to meet its emissions reduction target for 2020 and has put in place legislation to achieve its current 2030 climate and energy targets. Member States have prepared integrated national energy and climate plans to achieve their 2030 target. 

The EU is well on track to meet its 20% emissions reduction target for 2020.

Latest figures:

  • EU greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 24% between 1990 and 2019, while the economy grew by around 60% over the same period.
  • From 2018 to 2019, emissions declined by 3.7%.
  • The most significant decline was in sectors covered by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), in particular power plants. Emissions from stationary installations in all countries covered by the system fell sharply by 9.1% between 2018 and 2019.
  • Emissions not covered by the ETS (such as emissions from non-ETS industry, transport, buildings, agriculture and waste) remained unchanged between 2018 and 2019. The year before, these emissions had seen a slight drop; however, overall, emissions from this aggregate of economic sectors have been stable for several years.
  • CO2 emissions from international aviation continued to increase in 2019, rising by 3% compared to the previous year, continuing the increasing trend. Aviation emissions are covered by the ETS, but currently only for flights within the European Economic Area (EEA).


Achieving the 2030 emissions target

The EU has put in place legislation to reduce emissions by at least 40% by 2030 – as part of the EU's 2030 climate and energy framework and current contribution to the Paris Agreement.

This includes:

The effective implementation of national energy and climate plans as submitted to the Commission in 2019/2020 could lead to EU-27 greenhouse gas reductions of 41% in 2030 compared to 1990.

Projections indicate that, if current EU and national policies are fully implemented, EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 would be around 45% lower compared to 1990 levels when excluding land use emissions and absorptions, and around 47% lower when including land use.

The existing legislation will now be updated with a view to implementing the new proposed target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Commission will come forward with proposals by June 2021.

Effort Sharing

The Effort Sharing legislation establishes binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States for the periods 2013–2020 and 2021–2030. These targets concern emissions from most sectors not included in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), such as transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.

The Effort Sharing legislation forms part of a set of policies and measures on climate change and energy that will help move Europe towards a low-carbon economy and increase its energy security. Under the current Regulation, the national targets will collectively deliver a reduction of around 10% in total EU emissions from the sectors covered by 2020 and of 30% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. The EU will achieve its climate targets for 2020 and 2030 largely due from the 21% cut in emissions covered by the EU ETS by 2020 and 43% by 2030.


Emission reduction by 2020: 

  • 20% reduction by 2020 (from 2005 levels)

The national targets are based on Member States’ relative wealth, measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Less wealthy countries have less ambitious targets because their relatively higher economic growth is likely to be a stronger emission driver and they have relatively lower investment capacities. 

Emission reduction by 2030: 

  • 30% reduction by 2030 (from 2005 levels)

The Regulation on binding annual emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 (Effort Sharing Regulation) adopted in 2018 is part of the Energy Union strategy and the EU's implementation of the Paris Agreement. It sets national emission reduction targets for 2030 for all Member States, ranging from 0% to -40% from 2005 levels

National Action Required

In contrast to sectors in the EU ETS, which are regulated at EU level, Member States are responsible for national policies and measures to limit emissions from the sectors covered by Effort Sharing legislation.

Examples of potential policies and measures include:

  • reducing transport needs
  • promoting public transport
  • a shift away from transport based on fossil fuels
  • support schemes for retrofitting buildings
  • more efficient heating and cooling systems
  • renewable energy for heating and cooling
  • more climate-friendly farming practices
  • conversion of livestock manure to biogas.