Environment & Climate Change

In addition to a smart and inclusive growth, the European Union aims to create a sustainable growth with the Europe 2020 strategy.

In this context, the EU flagship initiative "Resource efficient Europe" is used for decoupling economic growth from resource use through the introduction of low-carbon technologies, the increased use of renewable energy sources, modernizing our transport sector and promoting energy efficiency.
 
 

Climate and energy targets

With this initiative, the 20-20-20 climate and energy targets, to which the Member States have committed, shall be achieved by 2020: 
 
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 % compared to 1990;
  • Increase the energy efficiency by 20 %;
  • 20 % of total energy consumption will consist of renewable energy.

Furthermore EU countries have agreed on a new 2030 Framework for climate and energy policy, setting even more ambitious climate and energy targets for the period between 2020 and 2030:
 

  • a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels;
  • at least a 27% share of renewable energy consumption;
  • at least 27% energy savings compared with the business-as-usual scenario.
 

Challenges

Challenges imposed by climate change and the scarcity of natural resources require drastic measures. The European economy is highly dependent on fossil fuels such as crude oil.
These natural resources have also been used inefficiently in recent decades, whereby price shocks for private consumers and businesses occur regularly. In addition, the global demographic trends lead to an increasing energy consumption.
All these factors result in increased level of pollution, adding to the climate change. 
 
 

Roadmap

The Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050 provides a cost-effective way to address these challenges and lead to a cleaner, climate-friendly and competitive European economy in the long run. The EU wants to achieve an overall reduction in its domestic emissions by 80 % by 2050. To achieve this target, the EU must reduce its emissions by 40 % by 2030 and by 60 % by 2040. In order to realize this ambitious goal, projects are funded by the EU aiming at cleaner and more energy-efficient technologies. These investments will be profitable, since they shall lead to lower energy cost. The low-carbon economy shall also improve the air quality, reduce air quality control and reduce costs for the health care of up to 88 billion € per year.
 


The General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’ gives also specifications to the measures to be implemented.
 
 

Action Programme

In 2014, the action programme came into force and identified three main objectives:
 
  • To protect the natural capital of the EU, that is, to protect, preserve and further develop the EU 's natural resources;
  • To transform the EU in a more resource-efficient, green and competitive low-CO2 economy;
  • To protect the EU citizens from environmentally related burdens and risks for the health and welfare.
 
Both protecting the environment and encouraging more sustainable energy are important parts of the Action Plan for the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR). Concerning the protection of the environment, the EUSDR focuses on the restoration and maintenance of the waters quality, the management of environmental risks and the preservation of biodiversity, landscapes and the quality of air and soil.
 
The Danube Region has a high potential for improvement in energy efficiency. Some countries have built up distinctive know-how regarding efficiency and renewables, which could now be usefully promoted and spread in the Region through new partnerships.
 
For more information on EU environment policies, please consult the website of DG ENVIRONMENT. For more information on climate change EU policies, the website of DG CLIMATE ACTION.