Country Background Information – European Union


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.

Download key EU facts

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  • flags

    The European Union is composed of 27 diverse member states. Cumulatively, the EU aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 5-20% of 1990 levels by 2050. Over 20% of the EU financial budget between 2014 and 2020 has been allocated to climate action. Over the same period, the EU has 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. As of November 2016, 148 out of 197 parties have ratified the Agreement.

  • 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 27% 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. Croatia only emits 24.8 Mt CO2e. However, 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 3.3 Mt CO2eq. However, this is 48.7% higher compared to their emissions in 1990. The source of this increase is attributed to the rising demand in energy supply and emissions from the transport sector.

  • Danish wind farm

    Denmark generates the highest wind power in the world. In 2015, more than 40% of the country’s electricity was from wind energy. More recently, in February 2017, Denmark ran entirely on wind energy for a day. 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 66% of the world’s olive oil. Scientists predict that olive yield would be affected as pest infestations may 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 1 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 Action Tracker country profile
  • EU leaders agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 from the Guardian.
  • 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 2014
  • EU climate change site
  • EU carbon trading scheme
  • General Information

  • Background Information from the UN
  • A good overview from the World Bank.
  • World Bank Africa Climate Business Plan
  • World Bank Climate Change Action Plan 2016-2020
  • CCAFS big facts
  • 2050 calculator tool for the UK
  • A history of climate change negotiations and another one.
  • A guide to COP21 in Paris from the Guardian.