Historical emissions data were obtained from the EU’s Data Viewer and cover the period up to 2018 (European Environment Agency, 2020b). This data still includes emissions from the United Kingdom.
NDC and other targets
Targets for 2020 and 2030 were calculated from the most recent data compiled by the EEA (European Environment Agency, 2020b), which do not include emissions from international aviation and shipping.
The calculation of the 2030 target reflects the agreement between the European Parliament and Council concerning the inclusion of emissions and removals from the LULUCF from December 2017, which allows the utilisation of credits from removals from that sector of up to 280 MtCO2 in the period 2021–2030 to meet the emissions reduction target in the non-ETS sector (European Parliament, 2018a). Since the removals have not been included in 1990 emissions levels, this means a potential for weakening the 2030 emissions reduction target. For the calculations made here, we assume that the member states will take advantage of this mechanisms throughout the whole of the 2021-2030 period. That would potentially weaken the EU27+ UK’s 2030 emissions reduction target by 28 MtCO2 or 0.8% of the emission in that year.
The EU27 “climate neutrality” goal is assessed based on the Commission’s in-depth analysis of the “Clean Planet for All Communication”. It states that “scenarios in-line with the net zero GHG objective reduce emissions by 91% to 94%”. However, this does include Carbon Removal Technologies, including BECCS (European Commission, 2018c).
Current policy projections
The pre-COVID-19 current policy projections are based on two scenarios. The “With Existing Measures” scenario presented in the EU27+UK’s 4th Biennial Report submitted to the UNFCCC in December 2019 is a bottom-up scenario based on biannual reports by the member states (European Commission, 2019c). As the projections have been made before the UK left the EU, the calculations apply to EU27+UK.
The second scenario is based on the PRIMES model EUCO3232.5, which also takes into consideration the adoption of the renewable energy and energy efficiency goals (European Commission, 2019d). It also applies to the EU27+UK.
For both scenarios, international aviation was excluded and the figures were harmonized to the latest inventory historical data.
To reflect the emissions reduction resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we applied a novel method to estimate the COVID-19 related dip in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 and the development through to 2030. The uncertainty surrounding the severity and length of the pandemic creates a new level of uncertainty for current and future greenhouse gas emissions.
We first updated the current policy projections using most recent projections, as outlined above. We then distilled the emission intensity (GHG emissions/GDP) from this pre-pandemic scenario. For the sake of internal consistency, emissions intensity of the GDP was calculated separately for the two scenarios used.
In the next step, the respective GDP values used for the scenarios were corrected by the most recent GDP projections that consider the effect of the pandemic. For the EU, the impact of the COVID-19 induced recession was assessed using the IMF’s World Economic Outlook from April 2020 and the Summer edition of the European Economic Forecast published in July 2020 (European Commission, 2020g; IMF, 2020). In both cases, the projections were made after the UK left the EU, so the rates of recession and growth used apply to EU27. Due to lack of projections for the EU27+UK we apply these rates of GDP change to the emissions for the EU27.
In the final step, the post-COVID-19 GDP was multiplied by the respective emissions intensity and adapted to the last historic year.
The similar approach have been applied to the EUCO3232.5 scenario. Since that scenario reflects the adoption of the EU’s renewable energy and energy efficiency goals, we assumed emissions in 2030 would be unchanged as the effect of the pandemic would just be make the goals easier to achieve due to recession induced decrease in energy consumption. Therefore, we followed the GDP approach described above until 2025 and then interpolated emissions growth between 2026 and the pre-pandemic 2030 value.
Applying two different GDP projections to two emissions projections resulted in four different emissions pathways. This includes two different emissions pathways for the EU3232.5 scenario, which resulted in the same emissions in 2030 as in the pre-COVID-19 projections, but with lower emissions in throughout the 2020s. Based on this the figure shows a range with the upper bound representing the emissions scenario from the EU27+UK’s 4th Biennial Report multiplied by IMF GDP projections and the bottom bound being the EUCO3232.5 projection multiplied by the Commissions GDP projections.
Global Warming Potentials
The CAT uses Global Warming Potential (GWP) values from the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) for all figures and time series. Assessments completed prior to December 2018 (COP24) used GWP values from the IPCC’s Second Assessment Report (SAR).