European Union

Core analysis conducted in July 2021.

Overall NDC Equity Score



Emissions Reductions


The NDC implementation will lead to major and fair reductions in GHG emissions, per historical responsibility.


Gender Justice


The NDC meets basic expectations in gender equality, but is still not impactful enough.


Youth Inclusion

Critically Deficient

The NDC has significant gaps in addressing youth inclusion, potentially not addressing young people at all.


To achieve the 1.5°C objective outlined in the Paris Agreement, the European Union’s (EU) NDC submitted in 2020 has as a primary goal to create a climate-neutral EU by 2050. The EU has a 2030 single-year target of 55% carbon emissions reduction from the reference year of 1990. This is a long-term, low greenhouse gas emission development strategy that covers all twenty-seven EU member states. To meet this target, the EU has multiple frameworks such as the European Green Deal, economic strategies such as the European Union recovery instrument next Generation EU (NGEU), EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), and Land-Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry (LULUCF) regulations. The overall implementation of this goal is reflected in the “Fit for 55” legislative package from the European Commission published in July 2021.  Each member state has its own reduction target, under EU Regulation 2018/842 for 2030 from the reference year 2005, which ranges between 0% emissions reduction for Bulgaria and a 40% reduction for Sweden and Luxembourg. According to the Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the EU’s current NDC goals will only achieve a >3°C scenario, making it currently incompatible with the Paris Agreement.  A stronger mid-way goal of between 58% and 70% reduction is necessary, according to CAT, and the typically advocated necessary target for 2030 is 65% according to European Civil Society and NGOs, such as Climate Action Network Europe.


On gender mainstreaming, the EU emphasizes the importance of gender responsive engagement and participation, however, it is very vague. It does not provide data on the formal inclusion of women in the design process, acknowledge their disproportionate vulnerability to climate change, or steps the EU will take strengthen the inclusion of women in climate action implementation efforts.


The effects of climate change on young people and their futures is a theme found recurrently in speeches made by EU officials such as Von der Leyen and Timmermans yet, on youth inclusion, the EU barely mentions the importance of youth as significant public participants, followed by the importance of supporting the next generation of economic contributors in response to COVID-19 recovery.


The EU NDC mentions Indigenous Communities once as a necessary consideration through mentioning the EU’s support for the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in relation to the NDC. Concrete measures on Indigenous Communities are largely lacking from the NDC itself.


  • Increased ambition from its previous NDC to a 55% emissions reduction target for 2030, from the base year of 1990.
  • Implementation is outlined in the FitFor55 package, published July 2021.
  • Strong links are made with Covid-19 recovery, through the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument.
  • Explicitly mentions the interconnectedness of gender and environment, drawing attention the European Pact on Gender Equality
  • The EU NDC, in light of intersectional environmental concerns, is still simply at an “acknowledgment” stage of recognising aspects such as gender and Indigenous Communities rather than at a “transformative” stage.


  • Lacks inclusion of gender disaggregated data on women's vulnerability to the climate crisis.
  • Fails to identify the age and gender distribution of civil society participation.
  • Vague in its commitment to gender equality.
  • Climate finance support for other countries could be expanded.
  • Youth and questions of intergenerational equity are not explicitly addressed.

Key Recommendations

The EU NDC 2020 is a strong improvement from the previous target. It fails to center young people and gender justice in implementation efforts or acknowledge their disproportionate share of the burden of climate impacts. The EU must strengthen its commitments to include both groups in

policy-making, job creation, funding activities, and everything climate-related in between. On the whole, the EU NDC, in light of intersectional environmental concerns, is still simply at an “acknowledgment” stage of recognising aspects such as gender and youth inclusion rather than at a “transformative” stage. The following are key recommendations for the improvement of future NDCs and other national climate plans:

For Gender Justice

  • Enhance the next NDC by specifically including women in the consultation phase, taking their needs into account and including transformative opportunities for them in the Green sphere and the fight for carbon-emissions reduction
  • Move beyond acknowledging and respecting the rights of women and Indigenous Communities to creating transformative policy that meaningfully includes them and allows for active participation in achieving emissions reduction goals and gender equality.
  • Incorporate gender disaggregated data into planning and monitoring efforts.

For Youth Inclusion

  • Include young people in the consultation phase of the next NDC.
  • Invest in green jobs and employment for European youth; improving vocational training, ‘green skills’ and quality education in the realm of green jobs (renewable energies, sustainable development, circular economy...)
  • Fund, support, and consult young Indigenous Peoples in conservation and biodiversity projects, and local environmental projects

NDC Ambassador - Author

Chloe Brink

NDC Ambassador Chloé (she/her) is a Belgian-born environmentalist and student, passionate about making the climate crisis an accessible topic and getting young people’s foot in the door in climate discussions. She is currently the External Relations Officer and Vice-Chairperson of Youth & Environment Europe, where youth empowerment and environmental activism go hand-in-hand. As someone who loves art, design, and literature, she is particularly drawn to the challenge of communicating the climate crisis, as well as engaging and educating young people. Chloé is also an undergraduate student at Sciences Po in France, studying Political Humanities, and volunteers as Communication Manager for her university’s environmental association, Sciences Po Environment. In her free time, Chloé likes to get creative with cooking, illustration, and photography (mostly taking many many pictures of the sky)!

NDC Ambassador - Author

Aoife Fleming

NDC Mentor Aoife Fleming is UN Youth Representative on Sustainable Development for the Netherlands and an LLM student in financial law at Leiden University. Aoife is one of the core campaigners for World’s Youth for Climate Justice, a youth-led organisation to request an ICJ Advisory Opinion on climate change and human rights. Her interest lies in how legal solutions can help address the climate crisis, both through climate finance and a rights-based perspective.

See Other Countries’ NDC Equity Scores

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