European Union

Making policy for climate’s sake

Europe is the land where climate policy has been explicit. Seeking to lead the world in terms of climate mitigation policy, it has integrated policy across many, varied states, and its nations have developed and implemented ambitious policies of their own. The challenge in Europe is to continue providing leadership in the face of an economic crisis, while accounting for national differences in outlook and policy.


These graphs show the changes in policy in the Power, Industry, and Buildings sectors in the EU


Agriculture Nitrate vulnerable zones

Most agricultural policy in Europe was developed for reasons beyond climate protection. Nevertheless, these policies had a very real impact on greenhouse gas emissions. For example, the Nitrates Directive encouraged decreasing levels of nitrate fertilizer application, thus reducing NOx emissions.


    Power Renewables targets

    The EU set, and narrowly missed, ambitious renewable energy targets for 2010 for the EU15. For 2020, the EU has set an even more ambitious renewable energy target for the expanded EU27 of 20% of total energy consumption, which translates to 34% of electricity generation from renewable sources.


      Industry Emissions targets

      The EU ETS is the world’s first significant carbon market, and has been operating since 2005. Roughly 45% of the EU’s emissions—including industrial sectors—are covered by the market. In addition, the EU has targeted specific technologies through voluntary agreements and minimum energy performance standards (not shown).


        Buildings EU policy towards referigerating appliances

        The increasing strictness of labeling standards for refrigerators, introduced in 1995 and updated regularly, demonstrated how EU efficiency standards ratcheted up over the last several years. The efficiency of the worst permissible label now exceeds the top category from 1995.


          Transport Emissions intensity indices

          Starting from a comparatively high point, real fuel taxes were almost flat since the mid-1990s and steadily declined as a proportion of the final fuel price. Rising oil prices rather than government intervention therefore were the main increase to price signals for more efficient road transport. Shown for EU27, Norway, Switzerland, and Turkey.