Focus on: Climate in Horizon Europe

Horizon Europe, the new framework programme for Research and Innovation, provides many opportunities for project leaders in the field of climate and environment. Most of them are available under the Cluster 5 “Climate, energy and mobility”. And with the setting up of the EU Green Deal, climate action becomes a cross-cutting issue in the programme.

Climate: a core priority for the European Union

The new EU budget for the programming period 2021-2027 gives a central place to climate. In order to achieve the climate objectives, the European Commission has decided to integrate climate action into its entire budget and to increase the share dedicated to climate as compared to the 2014-2020 period. Thus, during the former period, the European Union intended to devote 20% of its budget to climate action – an objective that was almost achieved (19.7%). For the new period, the Commission has set a target of at least 25%.

This allowance of the European budget would represent a mere € 503 billion over a 10-year period, therefore beyond 2027. These different objectives are part of the investment plan for the EU Green Deal. This budget will be distributed between different programmes such as the structural and investment funds, LIFE or the Horizon Europe programme for research and innovation. In the latter, the Commission wants more than 35% of its €95.5 billion budget to contribute to climate goals.

Horizon Europe: cluster 5 “Climate, energy and mobility”

The Horizon Europe programme, such as its predecessor Horizon 2020, is structured in 3 pillars. Within the second pillars, 6 “Clusters” are associated with major challenges. The 5th Cluster (Climate, energy and mobility) includes the main actions in favour of climate.

The main objective of this cluster is to accelerate the EU’s dual green and digital transition. The funded activities are thus directly linked to the Paris Agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals.

With a total budget of €15.35 billion, the cluster is divided into six ‘destinations’, the first four of which are related to climate and energy:

  • Climate sciences and responses for the transformation towards climate neutrality (Destination 1)
  • Cross-sectoral solutions for the climate transition (Destination 2)
  • Sustainable, secure and competitive energy supply (Destination 3)
  • Efficient, sustainable and inclusive energy use (Destination 4)

For the period 2021-2022, the budget of this cluster amounts to € 3 billion. Almost 70% of this budget will be allocated to climate and energy action:

  • 9% for climate (Destination 1)
  • 13% for climate-energy transversals actions (Destination 2)
  • 49% for energy (Destination 3 & 4)

The first calls for proposals are expected around 20 May 2021 with deadlines ranging from late August to mid-October.

Climate: a transversal topic within Horizon Europe

On top of a dedicated cluster, climate is a cross-cutting issue under the EU R&I programme. Within all the other clusters, climate-related calls are also present, for example:

  • Cluster 1 – Health: HORIZON-HLTH-2021-ENVHLTH-02-03: Health impacts of climate change costs and benefits of action and inaction;
  • Cluster 2 – Culture, creativity and society: HORIZON-CL2-2022-HERITAGE-01-08: Effects of climate change and natural hazards on cultural heritage and remediation;
  • Cluster 3 – Civil Security for Society: HORIZON-CL3-2021-DRS-01-02: Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction for extreme climate events: from early warning systems to long term adaptation and resilience building;
  • Cluster 4 – Digital, Industry and Space: HORIZON-CL4-2021-RESILIENCE-01-04: Developing climate-neutral and circular raw materials (IA);
  • Cluster 6 – Food, Bioeconomy, Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment: HORIZON-CL6-2021-GOVERNANCE-01-13: Modelling land use and land management in the context of climate change.

Finally, the new collaborative proposals will have to respect the “Do not significant harm” principle by linking the EU Green Deal objectives within the Excellence and Impact sections of their proposal. This principle aims to demonstrate that projects will not have negative effects on the climate.

What about other initiatives?

Other Horizon Europe sub-programmes also provide funding opportunities for innovators in the field of climate. For example, the EIC Accelerator, the EU’s flagship programme for SMEs, has opened a call dedicated to the Green Deal this year. The Climate-KIC is also an instrument to take into account for start-ups or innovative SMEs. This EIT can offer various types of support, whether financial or coaching.

The numerous partnerships implemented under Horizon 2020, as well as those to come under Horizon Europe, are also interesting funding sources and regularly launch calls for projects. These partnerships, such as ERA-NETs or JPIs (Joint Programming Initiatives) cover specific themes for which member states are associated.

Finally, the Missions, one of the major novelties of the new framework programme, will publish calls in the field of climate, and in particular through the Mission Adaptation to climate change. The work programme should be published at the end of the year.


Beside Horizon Europe, the climate has its own dedicated instrument through the LIFE programme. LIFE has seen its budget increase by 60% to reach a total budget of 5.4 billion euros for the period 2021-2027.

LIFE is structured in four thematic sub-programmes concerning nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition.

Interested in climate, environment and energy? Euronovia is organising a training session dedicated to the LIFE programme on 29 and 30 June 2021 (in French). Discover the programme! To register, click here.

In addition, our expert consultants will assist you in setting up your Horizon Europe projects. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us.