EU and the Paris agreement: towards climate neutrality

Source: European Parliament (EP) i, published on Thursday, December 7 2023.

To achieve the targets of the Paris agreement, the EU has made its long-term climate goals, including the climate neutrality by 2050, legally binding.

On 28 November 2019, MEPs adopted a resolution calling for the EU to set climate neutrality by 2050 as its long-term climate goal under the Paris agreement and to increase the emission reduction target to 55% by 2030. In a separate resolution, members declared a climate emergency in Europe. In December 2019, the European Commission presented the roadmap for a climate-neutral Europe - the Green Deal.

The Paris agreement aims to limit global warming to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C in order to avoid the catastrophic consequences of climate change. It has been signed by 194 countries as well as the European Union. All EU countries are signatories on their own, but they coordinate their positions together and set common emission reduction goals at the EU level.

National emission reduction goals

In order to reach the goal of the Paris agreement, countries are required to set goals for their climate efforts every five years, increasing their level of ambition over time. These goals are known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). These goals will be reviewed in 2025.

The EU’s climate goals

The EU was the first major economy to submit its emissions reduction goal under the Paris agreement, promising to reduce its CO2 emissions 40% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

In June 2021, the Parliament adopted the EU Climate Law, making the political commitment of climate neutrality by 2050 under the Green Deal into a binding obligation.

Why are UN climate change conferences important?

The countries that have signed the Paris agreement gather every year at a UN climate change conference, known as COP (short for Conference of the Parties), to measure progress and to discuss next steps in the fight against climate change. These meetings bring together governments, the private sector, civil society and industry.

Every five years countries’ actions are reviewed. Based on this review, countries should further strengthen the ambition of their climate action plans.

77% of EU citizens think climate change is a very serious problem, according to a Eurobarometer survey from July 2023

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In a resolution approved on 21 November 2023, the European Parliament expressed concern that the window for staying below 1.5 °C is closing at an alarming rate and that continuing with current policies would result in a 2.8 °C increase in global temperatures by the end of the century.

MEPs called for an end of all direct and indirect fossil fuel subsidies as soon as possible and by 2025 at the latest. They also want all countries to strengthen their climate commitments and contribute their fair share to increase international climate financing.

Find out more on international climate change negotiations with our infographic.

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