LIFE Programme for Climate Action (2014-2020)

European Commission

The Climate Action sub-programme of the LIFE Programme will contribute to the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. It has three priorities: mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and governance and information.


The European Commission’s Proposal for a regulation on the establishment of a Programme for the Environment and Climate Action (LIFE) was published on 12 December 2011 (COME (2011) 874 final.

The LIFE 2014-2020 Regulation (EC) No 1293/2013 was published in the Official Journal L 347/185 of 20 December 2013.

LIFE began in 1992 and to date there have been four phases of the programme – LIFE I: 1992-1995, LIFE II: 1996-1999; LIFE III: 2000-2006; LIFE+ 2007-2013.

Legal elements

The most common legal basis for environmental and climate legislation is Article 192 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union) which empowers the European Parliament and the Council to decide what action should be taken by the Union in order to achieve the environmental objectives which are set out in Article 191 of TFEU. The Lisbon Treaty in particular strengthened the emphasis on climate action by making combating climate change an explicit part of the environmental objectives.

Article 11 of TFEU lays down the obligation to integrate environmental protection requirements into the definition and implementation of the Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development.

Objectives of Fund

The LIFE Programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. It is intended to be complementary to other EU funding programmes, including the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and Horizon 2020. In particular, the LIFE Programme will encourage the uptake of environmental and climate-related research and innovation results of Horizon 2020.The objective of the Programme is to be a catalyst for promoting implementation and integration of environmental and climate objectives in other policies and in Member State practice.

The general objectives of the LIFE Programme are to:

  • Contribute to the shift towards a resource-efficient, low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, to the protection and improvement of the quality of the environment and to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, including the support of the Natura 2000 network and tackling the degradation of ecosystems.
  • Improve the development, implementation and enforcement of EU environmental and climate policy and legislation, and to act as a catalyst for, and promote, the integration and mainstreaming of environmental and climate objectives into other EU policies and public and private sector practice, including by increasing the public and private sector’s capacity.
  • Support better environmental and climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors.
  • Support the implementation of the 7th Environment Action Programme.

The Sub-programme for Climate Action will support the implementation of the EU’s climate policy. Overall, it will help induce transitional change towards a low carbon and climate resilient economy in the EU, strategically underpinning the implementation of the 2020 climate and energy package and the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, and prepare the EU for the climate action challenges until 2030. It will also support better climate governance at all levels, including better involvement of civil society, NGOs and local actors.

The Climate sub-programme has three priorities:

  1. Climate Change Mitigation
  2. Climate Change Adaptation
  3. Climate Governance and Information

The LIFE Programme for the Environment (2014-2020) is reported separately.

Further Information

March 2014 – Multiannual Work Programme adopted

The LIFE multiannual work programme for 2014-2017 was adopted by a Commission Decision on 19 March 2014.

The work programme sets the framework for the next four years for the management of the new LIFE Programme 2014-2020. It contains an indicative budget, explains the selection methodology for projects and for operating grants and establishes outcome indicators for the two LIFE sub-programmes – for Environment and for Climate Action. The total budget for funding projects during the period covered amounts to €1.1 billion under the sub-programme for Environment and €0.36 billion under the sub-programme for Climate Action.

LIFE project funding will also be provided through innovative financial instruments. For example, the LIFE Environment sub-programme will contribute to the pilot Natural Capital Financing (NCFF) financial instrument, which falls under the Nature and Biodiversity project area and will help finance biodiversity projects.

The work programme also features an indicative timetable for the Calls for Proposals for action and operating grants as well as for the two pilot financial instruments covered by it. The first calls are scheduled for June 2014.

Value Notes

There is a proposed allocation of €3.4 billion over the period 2014-2020. This will be divided as follows:

  • Environment – €2.6 billion
  • Climate Action – €800 million

The allocation for the Climate Action sub-programme will be divided as follows:

  • Climate Change Mitigation – €193.56 million
  • Climate Change Adaptation – €190.39 million
  • Climate Governance and Information – €47.59 million

Co-financing rate

Up to 60% of eligible costs is available for all projects in the first four years of the Programme, and up to 55% for all projects the final three years of the Programme with the following exceptions:

  • Up to 60% of eligible costs for integrated projects, technical assistance projects and preparatory projects for the entire duration of the programme.
  • Up to 75% of eligible costs are available for projects funded under the Environment sub-programme priority area Nature and Biodiversity that concern priority habitats or species for the implementation of Directive 92/43/EEC or the species of birds considered as a priority for funding by the Committee for Adaptation to Technical and Scientific Progress set up pursuant to Article 16 of Directive 2009/147/EC when necessary to achieve the conservation objective.
  • Up to 100% of funding for capacity building projects.

Match Funding Restrictions

Generally, match funding of 40% will be required.

Who Can Apply

Eligible applicants are likely to include:

  • National, regional and local authorities
  • International organisations
  • Non-governmental organisations active in the field environment and/or climate action
  • Private bodies including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)


Member States of the European Union – exceptionally outside of the EU or international in scope

Eligible Expenditure


There are no set thematic priorities or project topics for action grants under the Climate Action sub-programme. Project priorities will be in line with the general objective of the LIFE Regulation – to improve the development, implementation and enforcement of the EU climate policy and legislation and to provide for the required EU added value.

Projects should be linked with the three priority areas:

  • Climate Change Mitigation
  • Climate Change Adaptation
  • Climate Governance and Information

The sub-programme will contribute to the transformation of the EU into a low carbon society (a central part of the Europe 2020 climate and energy package).

Emerging climate mitigation technology will be facilitated through extended piloting and integrative demonstration. EU climate policy will be firmly linked to local impulse and initiatives and showcase examples of new and better approaches to implement this transition. The implementation of greenhouse gas accounting and climate change mitigation in the land use sector will also be developed. LIFE will also support the implementation of the EU climate change adaptation strategy so as to contribute to a more climate resilient Europe.

Support will be available for the following areas:

  • Support for implementation of adaptation strategies. This would include specific vulnerability assessments at regional or cross-border levels focusing on highly vulnerable areas as identified in the EU Adaptation Strategy such as urban, coastal, mountainous and islands areas, marine ecosystems, drought-prone areas or river-basins as well as implementing innovative adaptation approaches, preparation of specific investment plans.
  • Support for pioneering a post carbon society. Pioneers and role-models are important to guide the transitory process to low carbon economies and societies. Many technologies, life styles or governance models are piloted in social groups, small communities and by innovators before they become mainstreamed. Support to the deployment of new approaches (model cities or regions) for producing, consuming and governing with a transformational impact, should reflect fully the objectives of the EU climate and energy package or the Roadmap 2050 targets. To succeed, existing low carbon technology should also be examined with regards to non-technology barriers which prevent market penetration.
  • Demonstration at regional or sub-regional level of low carbon strategies or land use management plans. This would include mainstreaming of a range of emission reduction and resource efficiency measures across sectors and by using a range of measures to incentivise behavioural change. Support to the development of land management practices which have an impact on emissions and removals of emissions, eg as supplementary measures to ones supported under the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).


Pilot projects – projects that apply a technique or method that has not been applied or tested before, or elsewhere, and that offer potential environmental or climate advantages compared to current best practice.

Demonstration projects – projects that put into practice, test, evaluate and disseminate actions, methodologies or approaches that are new or unknown in the project’s specific context, such as geographical, ecological, socio-economic, and that could be applied elsewhere in similar circumstances.

Best practice projects – projects that apply appropriate, cost-effective, state-of-the-art techniques, methods and approaches taking into account the specific context of the project.

Integrated projects – projects implementing in a sustainable manner, on a large territorial scale, in particular, regional, multi-regional or national scale, environmental or climate strategies or action plans required by specific environmental or climate Union legislation, pursuant to other Union acts or developed by Member States’ authorities.

Technical assistance projects – projects aimed at supporting the preparation of integrated projects.

Capacity-building projects – projects providing support to the activities required to build the capacity of Member States, including LIFE national or regional contact points, with a view to enabling Member States to participate more effectively in the LIFE Programme.

Preparatory projects – projects in support of specific needs for the implementation and development of Union environmental or climate policy and legislation.

Information, awareness and dissemination projects – projects aimed at supporting communication, dissemination of information and awareness raising in the fields of the sub-programmes for Environment and Climate Action.

How To Apply

2014 Call for Action Grants

  • Traditional projects: 16 October 2014
  • Capacity Building projects: rolling basis until 30 September 2015

Preparatory projects, Integrated projects, Technical Assistance projects will be covered from 2015 onwards.

Frequency: annual

Link to guidelines:

Useful information

Applicants must use the LIFE 2014 application packages (in English only) for the preparation of proposals. Application packages are available to download from the LIFE website and contain full and detailed explanations with regard to eligibility, procedures and all other relevant details.

For “Traditional” projects, applicants must use the eProposal tool to create and submit proposal(s). A link is available on the LIFE website

All other types of projects must use the application forms provided in the corresponding application package. These can be downloaded from the LIFE website

Information taken from Grantfinder, Idox