European Union

Geopolitical Informations

510,1 (2016 estimate by Eurostat)
Total area
4,381,376 km2

Main legislative bodies

  • European Commission
  • Council of the European Union
  • European Parliament

Latest News

EU lawmakers approve tighter draft law for ETS reform

The EU Parliament’s environmental committee (ENVI) on Thursday (Dec. 15) adopted a draft reform of the European Emission Trading Scheme, after months of tense negotiations guided by the EU rapporteur Ian Duncan. And it is done. #EUETS is on its way. Thanks to @JytteGuteland @IvoBelet @Gerbrandy @BasEickhout Merry Christmas! @ecrgroup @ConMEPs — Ian Duncan MEP read more…

Crucial compromise to move EU ETS reform forward expected in December

Two key dates on the legislative proposal to modify the European Emission Trading Scheme are expected before the end of 2016. On December 15 the EU Parliament’s environmental committee (ENVI) will vote on the draft report considering the Commission’s proposal to revise the European carbon market in phase 4, starting from 2021. The ENVI vote read more…

EU on track to reach renewable and energy efficiency goals for 2020

The day after the European Commission proposed a package to boost clean energy for 2030, the European Environment Agency presented a new assessment of the progress made by EU Member States in meeting their 2020 targets on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The EEA report (“Trends and Projections in Europe 2016: Tracking progress towards Europe read more…

Climate Policy Facts


Year Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita) Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)
1990 5384.83 11.27 468.83
1991 5333.52 11.14 461.37
1992 5171.42 10.77 444.04
1993 5066.61 10.51 435.1
1994 5030.47 10.41 419.73
1995 5047.23 10.43 407.32
1996 5146.2 10.62 406.92
1997 5047.49 10.4 388.1
1998 5038.64 10.36 376.53
1999 4960.52 10.18 360.26
2000 4960.5 10.16 346.67
2001 5019.08 10.26 343.44
2002 4977.18 10.15 335.9
2003 5065.86 10.28 336.49
2004 5076.25 10.26 328.04
2005 5034.28 10.13 318
2006 5043.85 10.11 307.55
2007 4995.06 9.97 294.67
2008 4901.82 9.75 287.31
2009 4570.61 9.06 280.48
2010 4663.41 9.22 280.59
2011 4540.94 8.95 268.72

The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.


Energy Source Production (ktoe) TPES (ktoe)
Coal 164088,305 281555,527
Oil 97925,919 572187,599
Natural gas 158366,195 443899,352
Nuclear 238993,783 238993,783
Hydro 32213,622 32213,622
Geothermal 5900,914 5900,914
Solar thermal 1768,674 1768,674
Solar photovoltaics 1925,196 1925,196
Tide, wave, ocean 45,58 45,58
Wind 12831,372 12831,372
Biomass 81226,459 83942,235
Biofuels 24178,858 26888,834
Waste 19192,714 19211,174

The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.

The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.

The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.

Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.

National Policy

In 2015 the EU did submit its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in advance to the COP21 in Paris.  (see International Policy)

The European Union is currently laying the groundwork of its post-2020 climate and energy policy. In January 2014 the European Commission outlined the EU climate and energy strategy for 2030 to reduce GHG emission and shape the Union’s energy policy in the next decade. In October 2014, the European Council’s meeting endorsed a binding target of at least 40% domestic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels, an EU-wide goal of at least 27% of renewable energy consumption, and an indicative target at the EU level of at least 27% for improving energy efficiency compared to projections of future energy consumption.


The Climate and Energy Package, also called the “20-20-20 package“, introduced in 2007 commits the Union to a reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions of at least 20% below 1990 levels; 20% of EU energy consumption to come from renewable resources; a 20% reduction in primary energy use compared with projected levels, to be achieved by improving energy efficiency.

European Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS): it is an European-level emission trading scheme with binding targets for each Member State. The first phase started in 2005, currently the scheme is in its third phase (2013-2020). Allowances were mainly grandfathered in the first and second phase, with auctioning taking a larger role in the third phase. It intersects with the Kyoto Protocol allowing for a limited number of international credits coming from Kyoto offset mechanisms to count towards the individual caps. Managed through several regional and a central registry, the allowances are traded on 6 main market platforms.

The European Climate Change Programme: the first relevant action undertaken by the European Union to tackle climate change has been the launch of the European Climate Change Programme, in 2000, aimed at guiding the EU activities towards a common strategy to achieve the Kyoto Protocol’s target. Structured in a consultative process aimed at identifying potential and cost-effectiveness options the main result of the ECCP has been a proposal for a Directive on Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading.


The pillar of the European initiative on waste management is the “Thematic Strategy” adopted in December 2005 and which identify key activities to convert the EU into a “recycling society”. In order to achieve this objective in 2008 the European Union enacted the Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) which establishes a legal framework aimed at managing the whole waste cycle from generation to disposal, focusing on waste prevention, recycling and re-use. In particular, the Framework Directive requires to Member State to reach a minimum recycling target of 50% by 2020 (wrt 1990) for the overall of household waste (e.g. glass, metal, paper and plastic) while a target of 70% has been established for construction and demolition waste.


Ten years after the previous White Paper on Transport, the European Commission launched in 2011 the New White Paper, Roadmap to a single European Transport Areas, including 40 measures to build a competitive transport system to increase mobility, remove major barriers in key areas and fuel growth and employment, while reducing Europe’s dependence on imported oil and cut carbon emissions in transport by 60% by 2050.

Future action: in march 2011 the EU released the “Roadmap for moving to a low carbon economy in 2050 which sets necessary steps to achieve the EU objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.


The EU Adaptation Strategy (adopted by the European Commission in April 2013) focuses on promoting action and providing funding to member states, climate-proofing vulnerable sectors, and addressing knowledge gaps to make better informed decisions. Adaptation actions include mainstreaming adaptation into EU sector policies and funds, including marine and inland water issues, forestry, agriculture, biodiversity, infrastructure and buildings, as well as migration and social issues. The European climate adaptation platform (Climate-ADAPT) provides a toolset for adaptation planning, a project and case study database, and information on adaptation actions taken from local to regional levels. Furthermore, the Adaptation Strategy supports adaptation in cities through the Mayors Adapt initiative, and the EU Cities Adapt initiative, which aims to train stakeholders and enable an exchange of knowledge at the city level.

Member States of the EU with year of entry: Austria (1995); Belgium (1952); Bulgaria (2007); Croatia (2013); Cyprus (2004); Czech Republic (2004); Denmark (1973); Estonia (2004); Finland (1995); France (1952); Germany (1952); Greece (1981); Hungary (2004); Ireland (1973); Italy (1952); Latvia (2004); Lithuania (2004); Luxembourg (1952); Malta (2004); Netherlands (1952); Poland (2004); Portugal (1986); Romania (2007); Slovakia (2004); Slovenia (2004); Spain (1986); Sweden (1995); United Kingdom (1973)

International Policy

General features

Europe was a fundamental actor in establishing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and in the adoption in 2007 of the Bali Road Map. When  the American government decided to withdraw from Kyoto, the EU’s diplomatic power was able to retain other countries (e.g. Russia) succeeding in making the Kyoto Protocol to come into force in 2005. It “leads by doing”, connecting what it does at home with what it advocates at the international level.

Negotiating position

  • Achieving a global, comprehensive, operative, legally binding, and UNFCCC founded agreement. Countries have to commit to reduce emissions according to IPCC estimates, therefore by an amount consistent with the objective of keeping global warming to less than 2°C above the 1990 level. Before Cancun it adopted a step-by-step approach to further the negotiations at the global level (COM (2010)86
  • Including in the post 2012 agreement emission from aviation, shipping and fluorinated gases; pre-existing competent organizations (e.g. International Maritime Organization) has thus far been unable to deliver adequate measures.

  • Linking existing regional carbon markets and establishing a global carbon market → by 2015 establishing an OECD-wide carbon market, then extended by around 2020 to include the major emitting sectors in the economically more advanced developing countries.

  • High emphasis on MRV.

  • High emphasis on multilateralism and the linkage between climate change and development.