The EU has exceeded the targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Check out the infographics below to find out more.

Fighting climate change is a priority for the EU. It has committed to a series of measurable objectives and has taken several measures to reduce greenhouse gases. What progress has already been achieved?

EU 2020 climate goals
Graphic showing the evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU between 1990 and 2020 and targets up to 2050   
The evolution of greenhouse gas emissions in the EU 


The EU targets for 2020 were set out in the climate and energy package adopted in 2008. One of its objectives was a 20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions compared to 1990 levels.

It is estimated that EU emissions in 2020 were 31% lower than in 1990, meaning it exceeded its target by 11 percentage points. Confirmed data shows emissions decreased 24% by 2019 compared to 1990. There was a large drop in EU greenhouse gas emissions between 2019 and 2020, strongly related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, according to member states’ latest projections based on existing measures, the net emission reduction would only be about 41% by 2030. The EU emission target for 2030, set in the EU climate law, is at least a 55% reduction compared to 1990 levels. An upcoming package of new and revised legislation known as Fit for 55, aims to deliver the European Green Deal objectives and make Europe a climate-neutral continent by 2050.

More facts and figures on climate change in Europe

Progress in energy and industry sectors

To meet the 2020 target mentioned above, the EU is taking action in several areas. One of them is the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) that covers greenhouse gas emissions from large-scale facilities in the power and industry sectors, as well as the aviation sector, which accounts for about 40% of the EU’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

Between 2005 and 2020, emissions from power plants and factories covered by the EU emissions trading system fell by 40%. This is markedly more than the 23% reduction set as the 2020 target.

Status for national targets

To reduce emissions from other sectors (housing, agriculture, waste, transport, but not aviation), EU countries set out the national emission reduction targets under the Effort Sharing Decision. The emissions from the sectors covered by national targets were 15% lower in 2020 than in 2005, exceeding the 2020 target of a 10% reduction.

The reduction was mainly due to improvements in energy efficiency and the switch to less carbon-intensive fuels. Emissions from transport, on the contrary, increased annually until the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Infographic showing EU countries's greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 and 2019 and comparing progress towards the 2020 reduction target   
Targets for EU countries 


National emission targets for 2020 ranged from a 20% reduction by 2020 (from 2005 levels) for the richest countries to a 20% increase for the least wealthy.

Source: European Parliament