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Making EU Climate Policy Fit for Climate Neutrality

Cover of the 4i-Traction policy brief "Making EU Climate Policy Fit for Climate Neutrality"

© Ecologic Institute


Making EU Climate Policy Fit for Climate Neutrality

How to make EU climate policy transformative?


4i-TRACTION (2022): Making EU Climate Policy Fit for Climate Neutrality. 4i-TRACTION Policy Brief. Ecologic Institute, Berlin.

How must EU climate policymaking evolve to become transformative? This policy brief of the 4i-TRACTION project sets out conceptual hallmarks required for attaining climate neutrality in the EU.

The 2020s are the pivotal decade to get on the path to climate neutrality by 2050. EU climate policy needs to rise to this challenge. The EU's overall ambition has increased and its governance mechanisms are being improved – but most instruments and the overall policy mix remain designed for incremental change. The policy brief argues that EU policymaking must evolve beyond some core tenets of the existing policy paradigm, inlcuding:

  • Beyond tinkering: EU climate policy as a whole must become "mission oriented" towards climate neutrality. Thinking back from the end, policy should be informed by and measured against what is needed to achieve the necessary change.
  • Beyond carbon pricing: The EU has proven the usefulness of carbon pricing as a policy tool and is rightly seeking to extend its use. However, infrastructure and innovation require dedicated support. Technology shifts need both push and pull instruments – which cannot all be technologically neutral.
  • Beyond sectoral policies: parallel and interdependent change needs to take place in all sectors. EU policy needs to be equipped to coordinate these change processes, keep them aligned and foster integration across sectors. This includes being experimental where possible, and stringent where necessary.
  • Beyond the Berlaymont: The transformation will only succeed if it is built on broad societal support. European climate policies must therefore become more inclusive, participatory, and deliberative – seeking not only passive acceptance, but the active support and engagement of Europe's citizens.

The policy brief is available for download.

This policy brief is a product of the 4i-TRACTION project, a Horizon2020 project led by Ecologic Institute. It brings together nine partners from seven European countries to analyse what transformative EU climate policy could look like. Find out more about the project and its outputs here.


More content from this project


The authors would like to thank Andrzej Ancygier, Matthias Duwe, Pol Fontanet Pérez, Jonny Gardiner, Anuschka Hilke and Brendan Moore for valuable comments and suggestions.

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