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European Climate Pact
News article23 January 2024Directorate-General for Climate Action6 min read

Acting today for a better tomorrow: what you can do for the climate

Acting today for a better tomorrow: what you can do for the climate

In the last few years, we’ve seen a series of devastating extreme weather events, along with global temperature records being broken time after time, putting climate change in the headlines and on our minds. As our awareness of the problem is growing, so are the numbers of electric cars on our roads and solar panels on our rooftops.

But will that be enough? Reaching climate neutrality by 2050 in Europe isn’t just a distant promise of the European Union – it’s a legal obligation under the 2021 European Climate Law. And even though EU greenhouse gas emissions are falling steadily, the message we’re seeing everywhere is consistent – we have to do more, and faster.

So, what exactly does that look like on the ground? Here are a few examples from our Climate Pact Ambassadors.

More people opting for sustainable transport

Did you know that road traffic makes up about one fifth of the European Union’s CO2 emissions? There is no doubt that changing how we get around has to be a priority to help us reach climate neutrality by 2050.

Climate Pact Ambassador from Luxembourg, Tiziana Tamborrini, says road traffic is a huge problem in her country as most people rely on private cars and many commute to neighbouring countries (France, Germany and Belgium) to work. Private and commercial transport are known to be one of the main sources of Luxembourg’s CO2 emissions, but change is coming! According to Tiziana, her country is ahead of the curve when it comes to car-free infrastructure.

On a mission to get 20% more people using public transport by 2025 and reduce rush-hour congestion, Luxembourg has provided free buses, trains and trams for residents and tourists since 2020. It has also made other forms of sustainable mobility more attractive, with the e-bike system proving very popular among teenagers. While Tiziana believes it’s ‘a remarkable step forward’, she emphasised that there’s still a lot to do to address the country’s exceptionally high carbon footprint.

Of course, public transport and bikes aren’t the only sustainable options available. The number of electric cars on European roads has been rising over the last few years, with almost two million registered in 2022 in the EU, up from 1.74 million in 2021.

It can be a big jump to go from a combustion engine to an electric vehicle, so some people are choosing to switch to a more fuel-efficient car than their current one – which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is one of the changes on the road with the strongest potential to reduce emissions.

Wondering how much it helps to choose public transport over a car? The European Climate Pact has partnered with the AWorld sustainability app, which lets you track and measure your carbon footprint. According to the app, opting for public transport instead of a petrol or diesel car could potentially save 1 kg of CO2 emissions per day, which is over 30 kg a month!

More renewable energy and improved energy-efficiency at home

In Lisbon, Portugal, European Climate Pact Ambassador Miguel Macias Sequeira has helped to set up a renewable energy community run by 17 residents from his neighbourhood. As a first step, they installed solar panels on a local public building owned by Lisbon Municipality to produce electricity for the property itself and the local community, including several low-income families. They hope to reduce their carbon footprint while promoting social inclusion.

Miguel’s local energy community is just one example of neighbours and friends working together to make their buildings and homes more climate friendly. For property owners, installing solar panels is also a great option to make homes greener, and the good news is that low-emission technologies are becoming increasingly cost effective. The International Renewable Energy Agency reported that between 2010 and 2020 the costs for electricity from utility-scale solar panels fell by 85%.

If you’re not ready for a full renovation, don’t worry! There are many other ways to save energy at home – something as simple as switching your energy provider to a more climate-friendly one will bring you one step closer to a green home.

To check how seriously suppliers take sustainability, take a look at how and where they source their energy – they should be able to provide detailed information about this. And you can find more energy-saving hacks in our article on choosing green.

More climate education at all levels

Polish Climate Pact Ambassador Anna Staszewska spends a lot of her time speaking to children in the Silesia region about how rising temperatures affect the environment. She also works with students to transform empty or neglected outdoor spaces into green gardens.

It’s a type of education that didn’t exist when she was younger and Anna feels strongly that we need more of it. She’s not alone – the IPCC has recommended increasing climate education to spread awareness of the risks of climate change and to accelerate behavioural changes.

Anna believes that spreading the word about climate change is more than talking about climate issues – it also means leading by example. By showcasing climate-friendly behaviours, whether that’s taking the train or lobbying local politicians, we can inspire others and encourage them to do the same, making these changes a part of our everyday life.

In Greece, Climate Pact Ambassador and creative content designer Tassos Kotsiras is also committed to increasing climate education. In 2021, he launched Save your planet, a 3D animated series designed to teach children and adults about the consequences of climate change and promote actions they can take to help. For pre-school children, Tassos also created ‘Save your planet-baby’ along with two books, to help spread awareness about climate action.

If you’re looking for ways to boost your climate knowledge or ideas to share with others, take a look at the resources on the Climate Pact website, which include climate reports, guides for taking climate action and other useful tools such as courses or workshops. One example is Climate Fresk’s collaborative workshops focusing on the science behind climate change.

Taking our climate action a step further

Climate experts have confirmed that it is still possible to reach our climate targets, but we have to take urgent action now at all levels of society and economy – and this requires funding.

There is EU funding available for the green transition, from the Innovation Fund that boosts European clean tech to a new Social Climate Fund providing support to vulnerable groups of society, but climate spending also needs to be prioritised at national and local level across Europe.

If you’re interested in finding out what it feels like to make decisions around funding, try out The Climate Game from the Financial Times. It’s designed to put users in the policymaking driver’s seat, asking them what they would do in a variety of scenarios and the choices they would make when it comes to funding various solutions to climate change.

But as citizens, we can do much more than that. First, you can put your knowledge on climate change to use by speaking up and sharing it – for tips on effectively spreading the word about climate change, download our toolkit on talking to people about climate action.

Next, you can advocate for climate action by lobbying politicians and decision makers in order to drive change from the ground up. When it comes to elections in your country, your vote counts, so think about what climate action needs to happen around you next time you’re weighing up your political options.

Another way to scale up climate action is to team up with others. Many people are already working together to make a difference, so try to find out if there’s already a group or an initiative near you that you could join. Your Climate Pact Country Coordinator or local Climate Pact Ambassadors may be able to help.

To hear from our Climate Pact Ambassadors about the progress we’ve made towards our climate goals so far, read our article


Publication date
23 January 2024
Directorate-General for Climate Action