EU environmental policies and legislation protect natural habitats, keep air and water clean, ensure proper waste disposal, improve knowledge about toxic chemicals and help businesses move toward a sustainable economy.

The following is a list of EU Environment and Climate Change related legislation documents and weblinks that are currently available on Lean Business Ireland.

The Kyoto Protocol and other international agreements – The Road from Paris: assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement on fighting climate change
COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL The Road from Paris: assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement and accompanying the proposal for a Council decision on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

  • It sets out the key features of the Paris Agreement and how the European Union (EU) is implementing them.
  • Leading by example, it aims to encourage its international partners in their efforts in making the switchover to a low carbon economy.


  • The Paris Agreement provides a global action plan to tackle climate change. This includes:
    • limiting global warming to well below 2oC above pre-industrial levels and efforts to keep temperature increase to 1.5oC;
    • holding a ‘global stocktake’ every 5 years, starting in 2023, to analyse the progress made;
    • ensuring a legal obligation on signatories to take domestic mitigation* measures;
    • introducing stronger transparency and accountability measures with, for example, publication of greenhouse gas inventories every 2 years;
    • providing financial and other support to help less wealthy countries take the necessary adaptation* measures.
  • The agreement was opened for signature on 22 April 2016 and entered into force on 4 November 2016.
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will report in 2018 on the policy implications of the 1.5oC goal.
  • To implement the Paris Agreement, the EU will:
The operational priorities of the European Investment Bank
European Investment Bank Group Operational Plan 2015 - 2017

Approved in April 2015, it details how the EIB plans to best use its resources to fund projects, including support provided under the investment plan for Europe, expected to be underwritten by an additional guarantee from the EU budget.

The polluter-pays principle and environmental liability
Directive 2004/35/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on environmental liability with regard to the prevention and remedying of environmental damage

It lays down rules based on the polluter-pays principle. This means that a company causing environmental damage is liable for it and must take the necessary preventive or remedial action and bear all the related costs.


The directive defines environmental damage as:

The definition includes the discharge of pollutants into the air (as this affects ground or water conditions), inland surface water and groundwater, and any deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms as defined by Directive 2001/18/EC.

The role of zoos in the conservation of biodiversity
Council Directive 1999/22/EC of 29 March 1999 relating to the keeping of wild animals in zoos
  • It promotes wild animal species protection and conservation by strengthening the role of zoos in the conservation of biodiversity.
  • It includes rules for the licensing and inspection of zoos in order to ensure they respect the required conservation and protection measures.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development one year on [Archived]
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - The World Summit on Sustainable Development one year on: implementing our commitments {SEC(2003) 1471} /* COM/2003/0829 final

The main targets adopted by the international community at the Johannesburg Summit in September 2002 were:
•to reduce the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation;
•to increase access to energy services, energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy;
•to reverse the current trend in natural resource degradation;
•to reduce biodiversity loss;
•to minimise the harmful effects of chemicals;
•to promote sustainable patterns of production and consumption;
•to promote the implementation of national sustainable development strategies.

Thematic strategy for soil protection [archived]
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Thematic Strategy for Soil Protection

The Commission proposes a framework and common objectives to prevent soil degradation, to preserve soil functions and to remediate degraded soil. Under this proposal, which forms part of the strategy, risk areas and polluted sites are identified and provision is made to remediate degraded soil.

Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament - Thematic Strategy on air pollution {SEC(2005) 1132} {SEC(2005) 1133}

The European Union sets objectives for reducing certain pollutants and reinforces the legislative framework for combating air pollution via two main routes: improving Community environmental legislation and integrating air quality concerns into related policies.

Thematic strategy on the urban environment
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment

The EU sets out cooperation measures and guidelines aimed at improving the urban environment. The measures essentially concern the exchange of experience and the circulation of information at the most appropriate levels in order to ensure that legislation is implemented effectively and that best practices are promoted within local authorities.

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