EU progress towards its climate change goals (infographic) 

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The EU has set out ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Check out our infographics to find out about the progress it is making.

Fighting climate change is a priority for the EU. It has committed to a series of measurable objectives and taken several measures to reduce greenhouse gases. What progress has already been achieved?

2020 climate goals to be reached

Graphic showing the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU between 1990 and 2020 and projections up to 2035  

The EU targets for 2020 have been set out in the climate and energy package adopted in 2008. One of its objectives is a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.


By 2018, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU had decreased 23.2% compared with 1990 levels. This means the EU is well on track to reach its target for 2020. However, according to member states’ latest projections based on existing measures, the emission reduction would only be about 30% by 2030. The EU emission target for 2030, set in 2008, is a 40% reduction compared to 1990 levels and the Parliament is pushing to set an even more ambitious target of 55%.


In November 2019, the Parliament declared a climate emergency asking the Commission to adapt all its proposals in line with a 1.5 °C target for limiting global warming and ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are significantly reduced.


In response, the new Commission unveiled the European Green Deal, a roadmap for Europe to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Progress in energy and industry sectors


To meet the 2020 target mentioned above, the EU is taking action in several areas. One of them is the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that covers greenhouse gas emissions from large-scale facilities in the power and industry sectors, as well as the aviation sector, which accounts for about 40% of the EU's total greenhouse gas emissions.


Between 2005 and 2018, emissions from power plants and factories covered by the EU emissions trading system fell by 29%. This is markedly more than the 23% reduction set as the 2020 target.


Status for national targets


To reduce emissions from other sectors (housing, agriculture, waste, transport, but not aviation), EU countries set out the national emission reduction targets under the Effort Sharing Decision. The emissions from the sectors covered by national targets were 11% lower in 2018 than in 2005, exceeding the 2020 target of a 10% reduction.


The targets for EU countries