EU to meet Kyoto protocol but miss 2020 targets

7th October 2011

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The EU will meet its obligations under the Kyoto agreement, but member states are not doing enough to hit its goal of a 20% reduction by 2020, according to the European Environment Agency (EEA).

In three reports published today, the EEA estimates that despite an increase in greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions during 2010, overall the 15 countries legally-bound by the Kyoto protocol to cut GHG emissions 8% on 1990 levels by 2012, will meet the target.

According to EEA, the economic recovery in 2010 and an unusually cold winter resulted in a 2.4% increase in GHG emissions, with outputs from the energy sector up 2.6%, and emissions from industry, for example cement, iron and steel production, up 7%.

However, emissions from the EU-15 are still estimated to be 10.7% lower in 1990, with the European commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, saying the reports showed the EU was making progress in decoupling emissions from GDP.

“Between 2008 and 2009, emissions fell by 7.1% in the EU-27, much more than the around 4% contraction in GDP,” she said. “However, last year's estimated 2.4% rise in emissions shows that we need to continue the decoupling process.”

While the economic climate was an important influence on the creation of emissions, says the EEA, EU and national policies are also contributing to the long-term decline in GHG emissions in Europe. It highlighted in particular moves to improve energy efficiency, the 8.8% increase in energy from renewable resources and the shift towards natural gas from more carbon intensive fossil fuels.

The EEA also estimates that 2010 saw a 2.3% drop in emissions from the waste sector in the EU-15 in 2010, due to the implementation of the Landfill Directive, and a 1.3% decrease in emissions from the agricultural sector, with the EU Common Agricultural Policy credited with helping to cut methane and nitrous oxides.

“Many different policies have played an active role in bringing down greenhouse gas emissions”, said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA executive director.

“Besides renewable energy or energy efficiency, efforts to reduce water pollution from agriculture also led to emission reductions. This experience shows we can reduce emissions further if we consider the climate impacts of various policies more systematically.”

More worrying, however, were the agency’s conclusions about future emissions. According to its “Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections” report not only were existing approaches not enough to cut GHG emissions by 20% by 2020, but additional measures currently planned by European government’s would not be sufficient to meet targets.

“By 2020 member states must enhance their efforts to reduce emissions in non-EU emissions trading scheme sectors, such as the residential, transport or agriculture sectors,” the report concludes.

To read the reports in full visit the EEA website.


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