EU climate policy

EU climate policy steers both regional and national efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. This climate policy is based on the UN Convention on Climate Change, the supplementary Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement.

EU climate policy focuses on emissions trading, national targets for sectors not subject to emissions trading ( so called effort sharing) and the EU Adaptation Strategy. The EU is also an active player in international climate negotiations and the largest funder of climate measures in developing countries.

The EU is committed to a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This is also the commitment made by the EU, under the Paris Agreement, to the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Climate Change. In addition, the EU’s objective is to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

Climate and the European Green Deal

In December 2019, the European Commission published the European Green Deal, which sets out the means for achieving climate neutrality.

Agreement was reached in spring 2021 on the European Climate Law. With the passing of the Climate Change Law, the 2050 carbon neutrality target and the 2030 target of 55% emission reductions became legally binding.

On 14 July 2021, the Commission published a large package of proposals for climate and energy legislation. Through this ‘Fit for 55’ packet, the EU seeks to implement its target of reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030. In autumn 2021, negotiations on the proposed directives will begin between the European Parliament, European Commission and Member States.

As part of the Green Deal, the Commission has also published a proposal for a European Climate Pact, which aims to involve all citizens and stakeholder groups in climate work. 

In the coming years, the Commission also intends to present a number of other initiatives.

Separate targets for emissions trading and effort sharing sectors

The EU emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2030 are divided into the EU-level emissions trading sector and national-level effort sharing sectors, which are outside the emissions trading system. The emissions trading system includes, for example, large industrial plants and electricity and heat production. Sectors outside of the emissions trading system include construction, heating of buildings, housing, agriculture, transport, and waste management or industrial F-gases, even though these sectors produce just over half of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions. The Commission's July 2021 proposal to reform the ETS Directive also includes changes to the scope of the directive. 

How is this to be achieved? What does this mean for Finland?
Emissions trading
Sectors such as large industrial plants and electricity and heat production.
EU target -43 %
The EU has set the target for the emissions trading sector at a 43% decrease on 2005 levels by 2030. According to the Commission proposal of July 2021, the new target for the emissions trading sector would be a 61% reduction by 2030. In addition, the Commission proposes the strengthening of emissions trading and its extension to new sectors.
Non-emissions trading (effort sharing) sectors
Construction, heating of buildings, housing, agriculture, transport, waste management and F-gases from industrial processes.
Finland’s national target -39 %
Finland's country-specific emission reduction target for the effort sharing sector is currently a 39% decrease on 2005 levels by 2030. According to the Commission proposal of July 2021, Finland should reduce emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.
Forests and land use (LULUCF)
On the EU level zero emissions are required for the sector as a whole.
The Commission has confirmed the reference levels for autumn 2020 and submitted in July 2021 a proposal for revising the LULUCF Directive. According to this proposal, the land use sector would have national targets for increasing carbon sinks.

The objective for the ETS sector is to reduce emissions by 43% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Finnish objective for the effort sharing sector is to reduce emissions by 39% from 2005 levels by 2030. The Commission submitted proposals in summer 2021 for new country-specific targets and for reform of the emissions trading system. 

In order to achieve the set objectives, it is possible for countries to utilise certain flexibilities such as transferring a small amount of emission reduction units from the emissions trading sector to the effort sharing sector. It is also possible to save the annual surplus of emission reduction units for use in subsequent years or to acquire emission reduction units from other Member States.

The carbon sinks and emissions coming from land use, land use change and forest management are also taken into account in the EU climate objectives. The LULUCF sector (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry) must not be an overall source of emissions during the period 2021–2030. The calculation rules are defined in the LULUCF Regulation, for which the Commission also submitted a new proposal in July 2021.

The main responsibility for coordination of EU climate matters lies with the Ministry of the Environment, and matters are often dealt with in the EU Environment Council.

More information

Marjo Nummelin, Senior Ministerial Adviser 
Ministry of the Environment, Environmental Protection Department, Climate 0295250227