Three decades of EU climate policy: Racing toward climate neutrality?

Claire Dupont*, Brendan Moore, Elin Lerum Boasson*, Viviane Gravey, Andrew Jordan, Paula Kivimaa, Kati Kulovesi, Caroline Kuzemko, Sebastian Oberthür, Dmytro Panchuk, Jeffrey Rosamond, Diarmuid Torney, Jale Tosun, Ingmar von Homeyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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The European Union (EU) began developing climate policy in the 1990s. Since then, it has built up a broad portfolio of mitigation policy measures and governance tools, including legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and policy measures addressing emissions trading, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and more. In 2019, the European Commission—the EU's executive arm—published the European Green Deal (EGD), an overarching policy framework to achieve the goal of climate neutrality by 2050. The EGD aims to push EU climate policy and governance far beyond incremental policy development. In this article, we ask: does the EGD represent a break from past patterns of EU climate governance? We argue that it maintains several past patterns, but nevertheless breaks from other established policy and governance trends. We review insights from politicization and new institutionalist theoretical lenses to help us understand these findings. We reveal certain tensions and challenges inherent in the EU's climate governance approach—around speed and coherence, effectiveness and just transition—that highlight future research needs, and raise questions about the EU's ability to implement its climate policy goals. This article is categorized under: Policy and Governance > Multilevel and Transnational Climate Change Governance
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere863
Number of pages12
JournalWiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change
Early online date15 Oct 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 15 Oct 2023


  • European Green Deal
  • European Union
  • politicization
  • institutionalism
  • climate policy


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