Environment and climate in the European Union

Global issues, the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change are the subject of joint action by European countries. The latter have delegated many skills to the Union and are working to speak with one voice in international negotiations. Rather advanced, the Europeans contributed significantly to the signing of the Paris climate agreements in 2015.


The environment is "what surrounds on all sides". It is a "set of objective elements (air quality, noise ...) and subjective (beauty of a landscape, quality of a site ...) constituting the living environment of an individual", indicates the Larousse dictionary. Concerning climate change, according to the site dictionary-environment.com the term "designates slow variations of climatic characteristics in a given place, over time: warming or cooling". Climate change "can cause significant damage: rising sea levels, increasing extreme weather events, destabilization of forests, threats to freshwater resources, agricultural difficulties, desertification, loss of biodiversity, tropical diseases spreading" .

The situation in the world

Environmental and climate issues, by their very nature, are local, national and international. These stakes have become progressively unavoidable in the political and citizen debate since the beginning of the 1990s, and are today frequently discussed at the global level, alongside armed conflicts, terrorism, and even poverty. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), it is more than 95% certain that global warming is of human origin. By 2100, whatever the scale of international climate action, it is certain that we will experience an acceleration of ice melting and rising waters, as well as an overall increase in temperatures. To contain this global warming below 2 ° C - beyond this threshold, the "runaway" consequences, like extreme weather events, are "highly likely to become irresistible" - a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse effect is necessary. By about 70% compared to 1990 levels by 2050, before a near eradication by 2100, argue the experts. Conversely, if nothing is done, we should see an increase in temperatures of about 4.8 ° C by the end of the 21st century. At the international level, the "awareness" of global warming and the need to protect the environment is fairly recent. The latter dates back to the late 1980s with the Brundtland Report, defines for the first time the notion of sustainable development, then the early 1990s with the Rio Earth Summit. Historically more advanced on these issues, Europe is one of the groups of countries most likely to commit to the defense of the environment and climate, unlike traditionally reluctant states like the United States. In 2015, the European Union and the twenty-eight Member States were part of the driving forces of the COP21 (annual UN climate conference) held in Paris. The common commitment of the Europeans has indeed helped to encourage other nations to sign the Paris Agreements on the climate. Since then, Donald Trump's United States has unilaterally disengaged and Jair Bolsonaro's Brazil could do the same. However, no major defection can be noted, in Europe or elsewhere in the world. Many observers, however, denounce the lack of further progress since COP21, although, in addition to the following COP editions, a world summit was again held in Paris in December 2017 and in New York in September 2018: One Planet Summit.

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