The reduction of the man-made greenhouse effect is doubtlessly one of the greatest challenges in environmental protection we will have to face over the decades to come. The direct link between the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration and the earth’s average temperature is undisputed among scientists. Even though, in general, climate fluctuations are nothing unusual in the history of the world, human activities probably intensify and accelerate natural warming. Taking further greenhouse gas reduction initiatives on international level is therefore indispensable to stabilise the atmospheric GHG concentrations at a level which might allow a natural adaptation of ecosystems to climate change.
The EU aims at reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent compared to 1990 levels by the year 2020. Moreover, the share of renewable energy sources in the gross end-energy consumption is to be raised to 20 % and energy efficiency is to be increased by 20 % compared to the past.
The major part of the emission reductions provided for by the EU’s climate and energy package has to be achieved in the context of emissions trading. For sources not covered by emissions trading (such as transport, room heat, agriculture) the obligation in the Effort Sharing Decision has been shared among Member States.