Overall rating
Policies & action
Almost Sufficient
< 2°C World
Domestic target
Almost Sufficient
< 2°C World
Fair share target
< 3°C World
Climate finance
Net zero target



Comprehensiveness rated as

Land use & forestry
Not significant

Historical emissions

Historical emissions between 1990 and 2019 are based on data published by the European Environment Agency in its Data Viewer (European Environment Agency 2021b). For 2020 - we used data provided from a reference scenario published in July 2021 which already estimated the impact of COVID throughout 2020 (European Commission 2021f). The value has been adapted from GWP in AR5 to AR4. For net emissions, we used emissions from LULUCF for 1990 provided earlier: the updated value for 1990 is significantly different and could result from a mistake in reporting.

NDC and other targets

The NDC submitted by the EU in the name of the EU member states in December 2020 makes clear that civil aviation is included in the EU goal. While it states that emissions are calculated “including emissions from outgoing flights that start in the EU, on the basis of fuels sold in the EU”, it also underlines that “(t)his information is subject to revision in light of the enhanced target”. Similarly, “domestic waterborne navigation” is to be included in the same way as it is reflected in the EU’s inventories. Also “(t)his information is subject to revision in light of the enhanced target” (Germany and the European Commission 2020b).

The “Fit for 55” package of proposals clarified how emissions from aviation and maritime transport is to be covered in the EU’s climate policy framework. The impact of the package on emissions is quantified by the Commission in three policy scenarios published in July 2021. Out of these three, the MIX-CP scenario in the best way represents the climate policy architecture and specific measures presented by the Commission. It has therefore been used as the basis to quantify the EU’s NDC target.

The EU’s emissions reduction goal of reducing emissions in 2030 by “at least 55%” in comparison to 1990 has been expressed as net emissions. The European Climate Law adopted in May 2021 specifies, that a maximum of 255 MtCO2e can be used to account for meeting this goal (European Parliament and the Council of the European Union 2021). The Commission’s modelling already takes this into account and presents the emissions excluding LULUCF. To calculate emissions reduction goal excluding LULUCF and excluding international aviation and navigation, this value is compared to EU’s emissions, excluding LULUCF, in 1990.

2020 pledge

Targets for 2020 have been calculated using historic emissions (excluding LULUCF) in 1990 and applying the 20% reduction rate for the unconditional and 30% for conditional emissions reduction target. This resulted in emissions level of 3,897 MtCO2e and 3,410 MtCO2e, respectively. With emissions in 2020 estimated at slightly below 3,200 MtCO2e in 2020, both targets have been met. It can be assumed, that the unconditional target would have easily been made without the pandemic – already in 2019 emissions fell to 3,610 MtCO2e. Applying the 2019 rate of emissions decrease also for 2020 would result emissions slightly below 3,500 MtCO2e. Therefore, it can be assumed, that without the pandemic the EU would have missed its conditional target for 2020.

Current policy projections

The assessment of the EU’s policy projections should reflect both, policies and measures implemented at the national level, as well as these adopted at the EU level but not yet transposed by the member states.

To reflect policies adopted at the national level, we use the compilation of the national projections prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The compilation used projections prepared by the member states before March 2020 which constitutes the basis for the With Existing Measures scenario (“WEM Scenario”) (European Environment Agency 2020). To account for emissions decrease resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we applied the emissions intensity from the pre-COVID 19 projections to GDP reflecting the newest projections from the European Commission from July 2021 (European Commission 2021u).

The EU policies were derived from the Reference Scenario published by the European Commission in July 2021 (European Commission 2021d). The scenario includes already implemented policies and adopted binding goals. As many of these goals—especially the energy efficiency and renewable energy goals—are binding at the European level and not all EU member states adopted measures to reach them yet, this scenario reflects in much deeper reduction in emissions. This scenario has been prepared throughout 2020 and does already reflect the impact of the COVID-19-driven economic recessions. At the same time, the emissions are provided in GWP from AR5 which requires their recalculation to AR4 for the sake of comparability.

Planned policy projections

In addition to With Existing Measures scenario, the European Environment Agency also adapts the projections using data from National Energy and Climate Plans submitted by the member states to the Commission throughout 2020. On this basis the EEA develops With Additional Measures scenario (“WAM Scenario”) (European Environment Agency 2020). This scenario lies between the EEA WEM and Reference Scenario, and therefore is not accounted for separately.

Global Warming Potentials

The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all its figures and time series. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the Second Assessment Report (SAR). For the EU, projections prepared in 2021 use GWP AR5, which are translated to GWP AR4 for the sake of comparability.

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