The European Commission has approved 171 new projects across Europe under the LIFE Programme for environment and climate action, worth more than €396m. Thanks to the programme's co-funding requirements, it will mobilise a total investment of more than €722m, which represents a 28.5% increase compared to last year. 

Two Irish projects are to receive funding: LIFE AUDIT-PLUS, a multinational project, coordinated by UCC and which aims to advance energy efficiency in the ceramic, food processing and pharma sector and TRESS, a project coordinated by the Tipperary Energy Agency Limited and which aims to transform building renovation along Ireland's southern seaboard.

Projects from almost all EU countries will benefit from EU support under the following sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity; circular economy and quality of life; climate change mitigation and adaptation; and clean energy transition.

LIFE projects contribute to reaching the European Green Deal's broad range of climate, energy and environmental goals, including the EU's aim to become climate-neutral by 2050. They support biodiversity and nature restoration, improve the quality of life of Europeans by reducing pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, increase circularity in the economy and climate resilience, and accelerate the transition to clean energy across Europe. 

Examples of awarded projects

One of the biggest nature and biodiversity projects involves 13 EU Member States and other European countries tackling fishing bycatch in the North Atlantic, Baltic and Mediterranean waters. Led by the Netherlands, the project aims to minimise – and where possible eliminate – bycatch in the regions involved in line with the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030.

To promote a more circular economy and quality of life, one project in Bulgaria will promote sustainable consumption, prevention and separate collection of waste involving local authorities, businesses and citizens. The project aims to show how Bulgaria's traditional landfill dumping can be replaced by new ‘pay as you throw' door-to-door waste collection and recycling schemes.

Supporting climate mitigation, a French project aims to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of an innovative and cost-efficient photovoltaic system before bringing it to the market. The technology consists of bifacial solar panels that are suspended above unexploited sites such as canals, basins and reservoirs. This technology will help generate more renewable energy, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and reduce competition for land use.

A new multi-country project will also support the clean energy transition in the HORECA (hotel, restaurant, catering) value chain in seven EU countries. The project aims to train more than 500 workers and engage around 10 000 stakeholders in the accommodation and food service industry to save the equivalent energy of 390 million light bulbs a year. 

At a glance: the projects

Nature and biodiversity 

A total of 29 nature and biodiversity projects, with a total budget close to €211m (of which the EU will contribute around €140m) will restore freshwater, marine and coastal ecosystems, and habitats; improve the conservation status of birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals; enhance governance; and support the implementation and compliance with relevant EU legislation such as the Birds and Habitats Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Doing so, they will equally contribute to the EU's implementation of the Kunming/Montreal Global Biodiversity Agreement.

Circular economy and quality of life

LIFE projects will mobilise over €298m, of which the EU will provide over €94m to contribute to circular economy and improve the quality of life. 

A total of 36  projects will focus on water use, electrical waste, chemicals, air and noise pollution to help improving the quality of life for EU citizens and developing technologies to support the Circular Economy Action Plan

Furthermore, five projects will enhance environmental governance and information by empowering consumers to live toxic-free lives and making sustainable food choices, and by supporting municipalities to adopt best practices in waste management and to implement the Green City Accord. The EU will contribute around €6 million for a total project budget of nearly €10m. 

Climate change mitigation and adaptation

In total, 34 projects worth about €110m (in which the EU will provides around €65m) will contribute to climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and climate governance and information related to climate change impacts. They will boost the implementation of the European Climate Law and the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change Strategy by facilitating the shift towards a climate-neutral, sustainable and resilient European economy.

These projects address, among others, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; carbon removals in agricultural and forest lands; sustainable food systems; renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements; climate-friendly alternatives to fluorinated greenhouse gases; climate adaptation in urban and rural areas, as well as greater preparedness for extreme weather events such as heatwaves and floods. 

Clean energy transition

A total of 67 projects with a total budget of more than €102m (of which the EU provides around €97m) will improve market and regulatory conditions in the EU for the clean energy transition, notably promoting and rolling out energy efficiency and small-scale renewable energy solutions. 

These projects support the implementation of the energy efficiency and renewable energy policies set out in the REPowerEU plan and the Fit for 55 package, as well as the overarching Energy Union objectives.