Country Background Information – European Union

Europe_thumb

For the purposes of these negotiations, the 27 countries of the EU are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

If possible, download these two documents to your phone, so that you can refer to them later:

Key EU facts

Glossary

  • flags

    The European Union is composed of 27 diverse member states. The EU more than met its 2020 target of 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The European Climate Law sets the 2050 target of becoming the world’s first climate neutral continent. Between 2014 and 2020 the EU committed EUR 14 billion to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation activities in developing countries.

    Source: Flickr / Thijs ter Haar

  • Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is the second richest country in the world based on income. Only 2 500 km2 in size, its territorial GHG emissions are much lower than other EU countries. However, their per capita emissions are one of the highest in the world due to a more energy-intensive lifestyle.

  • Eiffel Tower

    One of the most visited European destinations, Paris is also significant as a landmark for climate negotiations. In 2015 at the UNFCCC Conference of Parties, 195 nations agreed to sign the Paris Agreement which aims to “keep the global temperature rise in this century well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels” and pursue a limit of 1.5 C.

  • BMW

    Germany has the largest economy in Europe, powered by its biggest industry–automobile manufacturing. Through improvements in engine efficiency and fuel alternatives, this industry has seen significant reductions in GHG emissions. So far, Germany has managed to reduce its total emissions to 36% below 1990 levels, yet it remains to be the biggest contributor to EU emissions.

  • Croatia

    Croatia joined the European Union in 2013; the newest member of the EU. Compared to other EU countries which focus on climate change mitigation, the government of Croatia’s climate change policy is focused on adaptation. Because of its coastal location, around 15% of the country is at risk from flooding caused by rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

    Source: Flickr / Andrey

  • Malta

    Malta currently has the lowest GHG emission among all EU countries, with only 2 Mt CO2eq. Investment in new generation capacity, fuel switching and alternative sourcing of electricity contribute towards the rapid decrease in emissions since 2012.

  • Danish wind farm

    Denmark generates the highest wind power in Europe. In 2019, more than 47% of the country’s electricity was from wind energy. Denmark also exports wind energy to neighbouring countries.

    Source: Flickr / Kim Hansen

  • olives

    Olive oil is one of the top agricultural exports from the EU, providing 67% of the world’s olive oil. Scientists predict that olive yield will be affected as drought and pest infestations increase with climate change.

  • Nuclear Power

    Nuclear power is significant in France’s energy and economy. Around 75% of France’s electricity is from nuclear power. It is also able to export electricity from nuclear energy, earning them around EUR 3 billion per year.

    Source: Flickr / IAEA Imagebank

  • refugees

    Since 2015, about 2 million refugees have come to the EU. Climate change is expected to cause further migration. The EU recognizes this and has set out policy discussions on how they could support and assist other countries in addressing migration as an adaptation strategy.

    Source: Flicker / Ilias Bartolini

Further Materials (higher level learners) – EU

Note that many of these resources include the UK, bringing the total number of EU states to 28.

  • Climate Transparency country profile
  • The EU’s position on climate change before the 2015 Paris COP.
  • The EU’s emission history and projections from Climate Action Tracker.
  • The EU’s self-assessment of its vulnerability to climate change, submitted to the UNFCC in 2019.
  • EU climate adaptation
  • EU carbon trading scheme
  • EU leaders agree to make Europe carbon neutral by 2050
  • EU Climate Action
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • CCAFS big facts
  • En-Roads 2100 climate simulator
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.