The 2020 Climate and Energy package


The 2020 Climate and Energy Package is a set of binding legislation, which aims to ensure that the European Union meets its ambitious climate and energy targets for 2020.


These targets, known as the “20-20-20” targets, set three key objectives for the EU by 2020:

  • A 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels;
  • Raising the share of energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20%;
  • A 20% improvement in the energy efficiency.

The 20-20-20 targets represent an integrated approach to climate and energy policy that aims at combating climate change, increasing the EU’s energy security and strengthening its competitiveness. The targets were set by EU leaders in March 2007, when they committed Europe to become a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy, and were enacted through the climate and energy package in 2009. The EU is also offering to increase its emissions reduction to 30% by 2020 if other major economies commit to undertake their fair share of a global emissions reduction effort.


The climate and energy package comprises four pieces of complementary legislation:


Reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS)

The EU ETS  is the key tool for cutting industrial greenhouse gas emissions most cost-effectively. The climate and energy package includes a comprehensive revision and strengthening of the legislation which underpins the EU ETS, the Emissions Trading Directive. Major changes include the introduction of a single EU-wide cap on emission allowances in place of the existing system of national caps. The cap will be cut each year so that by 2020 emissions will be 21% below the 2005 level.
National targets for non-EU ETS emissions
Under the so-called Effort Sharing Decision, Member States have taken on binding annual targets for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions from the sectors not covered by the EU ETS, such as housing, agriculture, waste and transport – comprising around 60% of the EU’s total emissions. The national targets range from a 20% emissions reduction by the richest Member States to a 20% increase by the least wealthy. Member States must report on their emissions annually under the EU monitoring mechanism.


National renewable energy targets
Under the Renewable Energy Directive, Member States have taken on binding national targets for raising the share of renewable energy in their energy consumption by 2020. The national targets ranging from 10-49% will enable the EU as a whole to reach its 20% renewable energy target for 2020. In addition the targets will also help cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the EU’s dependence on imported energy.

Carbon capture and storage
The fourth element of the climate and energy package is a directive creating a legal framework for the environmentally safe use of carbon capture and storage technologies, which involves capturing the carbon dioxide emitted by industrial processes and storing it in underground geological formations where it does not contribute to global warming.
The climate and energy package does not directly address the energy efficiency target. This is being done through the 2011 Energy Efficiency Plan, which includes the set of measures aiming at creating substantial benefits for households, businesses and public authorities.


What are the EU’s climate and energy goals for 2030? Read more about the new targets for the next decade.