Climate change mitigation: reducing emissions – European Environment Agency

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Our climate is changing because of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. Despite notable emission reductions over the last decades, the EU must transform production and consumption systems to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
Mitigating climate change means reducing the flow of heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This involves cutting greenhouse gases from main sources such as power plants, factories, cars, and farms. Forests, oceans, and soil also absorb and store these gases, and are an important part of the solution. Reducing and avoiding our emissions requires us to reshape everything we do — from how we power our economy and grow our food, to how we travel and live, and the products we consume. It is a problem felt locally and globally
In the past decades, the EU took firm action against climate change, resulting in a more than 31% drop in EU emissions in 2022 compared with 1990 levels. This is mainly a result of a growing use of renewable energy and decreased use of carbon-intensive fossil fuels. Improvements in energy efficiency and structural changes in the economy also contributed to meeting these goals.
Now, more ambitious goals are set that include a net 55% or greater reduction below 1990 levels by 2030 and a climate-neutrality objective by 2050. Reaching these goals will require even higher emission cuts through transitioning from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. It also means halting deforestation, using land sustainably and restoring nature until we reach the point where the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere is balanced with the capture and storage of these gases in our forests, oceans and soil.
The EU emits 6% of global emissions and cannot act alone. Global cooperation is essential for all climate change mitigation. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement ensure cooperation across borders to tackle climate change and ensure a sustainable future.
EU Member States have put in place 3,000 policies and measures to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. National climate change mitigation strategies, policies and other accompanying measures are also in development. These include targets for greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors of the economy, promoting the use of renewable energy and low carbon fuels, energy efficiency improvements in buildings, and many more.
They project that measures already in place across Europe would lead to a reduction of 43% in 2030 for total net greenhouse gas emissions including international aviation, while further measures that are currently being planned would boost reductions to 48%. 
Achievements in emission reductions vary across sectors too. Most EU sectors reduced greenhouse gas emissions over the past three decades, with the highest reductions in the energy supply sector. Still, agriculture and transport struggle to reduce emissions:
The EU also achieved its target for renewable energy. By 2022, 22.5% of our energy consumed came from renewable sources, and 40% was energy production. For energy efficiency, the EU-27 overachieved the target in its final year, after an initial slow start.
The European Green Deal sets the overall roadmap for achieving EU climate neutrality by 2050 by tackling the threat of climate change while also growing economically and protecting people’s well-being. With the European Climate Law, the EU made climate neutrality by 2050 a legally binding goal, set an interim target of a net 55% emission reduction by 2030 and is working on setting the 2040 target. The Fit for 55 proposal aims to bring EU legislation in line with the 2030 goal.
The impacts of the 2022 gas and energy security crisis highlighted the importance of transitioning faster towards a clean and secure EU energy system.
Under the wider umbrella of the European Green Deal, Europe's 2030 policy ambitions include:
To accelerate this transition, Europe must ensure that investments and finance support sustainability. Energy and mobility sectors especially must distance themselves from unsustainable technologies.

of global emissions
are released by the EU: 4th largest emitter
reduction in EU emissions achieved
in 2022 compared to 1990 levels
is the EU reduction target by 2030
compared to 1990 levels
Greenhouse gas emissions dropped by 2% in 2022 across the European Union, compared to 2021 levels according to estimates our latest ‘Trends and Projections’ report. However, despite gains made in emissions reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, the report cautions that accelerated action is urgently needed to meet the EU’s ambitious climate and energy targets. 
The EU has reduced net greenhouse gas emissions including international aviation, by 31% compared to 1990 levels, while simultaneously fostering economic growth. Against the backdrop of soaring natural gas prices, 2022 witnessed a 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, driven by substantial decreases in the buildings and industrial sectors, while emissions from energy supply and transport saw an increase. 
While emissions of methane across the European Union have decreased over past years, the overall reduction in emissions needs to accelerate to meet 2030 and 2050 EU climate objectives. Increased global efforts to reduce methane emissions would also be needed to mitigate global warming in the short term.
According to the latest available official data, emissions of methane were down by 36% in the EU in 2020 compared with 1990 levels. The largest reductions in emissions occurred in energy supply, which includes energy industries and fugitive (leaked or uncaptured) emissions (-65%), waste (-37%) and agriculture (-21%).
A robust reporting system is required to monitor progress toward EU climate change mitigation targets. The EEA is a key player in setting up these reporting systems, providing guidance to Member States on how to report and quality check the input. The EEA collects and provides access to the following types of data:
Much of the data comes from datasets collected by the EEA. This data is then used to fulfil the EU's own targets and to allow the European Commission to assess whether the Union is on track to meet its international pledges made in the United Nations setting.

In simple terms, photosynthesis is the process through which trees and plants capture carbon from the atmosphere and release oxygen. This natural process happens to be one of our best allies and the most efficient technology to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. With the Copernicus Land Monitoring Service, we get detailed information on what grows on the ground.
Knowing where vegetated areas are and what type of vegetation is growing there is crucial for calculating net greenhouse gas emissions. The CLMS has a suite of vegetation-related data products—such as the High-Resolution Vegetation Productivity Parameters and its trio of high resolution forest monitoring products—that provide information on living land cover and land use across Europe. This data can assist local, regional, and national governments in achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions.


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