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Climate Change: EU On Track Towards Kyoto Target

Climate change: EU on track towards Kyoto target but efforts must be maintained, projections show

The EU is moving closer to achieving its Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases but additional initiatives need to be adopted and implemented swiftly to ensure success. This is the conclusion of the Commission's annual report on progress towards meeting the Kyoto objectives.

The latest projections from Member States indicate that measures already taken, together with the purchase of emission credits from third countries and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere, will cut EU-15 emissions in 2010 to 7.4% below levels in the chosen base year (1990 in most cases) - just short of the 8% reduction target for 2012.

Additional policies and measures under discussion at EU and national levels will allow the target to be reached and even take the reduction to 11.4% if implemented promptly and fully.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: "The latest projections show that the Kyoto target will be reached once the Member States have adopted and implemented the additional actions now under discussion. I therefore urge them to do this swiftly.

The Commission has already made a significant contribution to reaching the Kyoto target through its decisions on national allocations under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for 2008-2012. This also lays a solid foundation for achieving our more ambitious emission targets for 2020, for which we will bring forward a number of proposals early next year."

Kyoto commitments

Under Kyoto the EU-15 Member States are committed to reducing their collective greenhouse gas emissions in 2008-2012 to 8% below base year levels. There is no collective target for EU-25 or EU-27 emissions. Most EU-12 Member States have individual commitments to reduce emissions to 6% or 8% below base year levels over the same period. Cyprus and Malta have no target.

Historical emissions and projections to 2010

As announced in June (see IP/07/835), EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 - the latest year for which full data are available - were 2% lower than base year levels. This contrasted with economic growth of more than 35% over the same period. For the EU-25 the emissions reduction to 2005 was 11% from base year levels.

The latest projections by Member States show that existing policies and measures - those already implemented - are expected to reduce EU-15 emissions to 4% below base year levels by 2010, the middle year of the 2008-2012 period.

Plans by 10 of the EU-15 Member States to buy credits from emission-saving projects carried out in third countries under Kyoto's market-based mechanisms would bring a further reduction of 2.5%, taking the cut to 6.5%.

Planned afforestation and reforestation activities, which create biological 'sinks' that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, would contribute an additional cut of 0.9%, giving a 7.4% reduction, 0.6% short of the Kyoto target. The target will be more than comfortably achieved on condition that additional policies and measures currently under discussion are promptly put in place and fully implemented. The total emissions reduction could then increase to 11.4%.

Additional policies and measures under discussion at EU level which would contribute to meeting the Kyoto target include the Commission's proposals to include aviation in the EU ETS from 2011 and to require a 10% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels between 2011 and 2020. Both are presently under discussion within the Council and the European Parliament under the co-decision procedure.

A significant contribution to meeting the EU-15's 8% reduction target will come from the Commission's decisions to cut back many national allocation plans (NAP) for the second trading period of the EU ETS. Compared with base year levels, these decisions will reduce EU-15 emissions by 3.4% and EU-25 emissions by 2.6% (emissions data for Bulgaria and Romania have not been independently verified due to their recent accession). Part of this reduction may already be reflected in some Member States' projections.

The progress report indicates that all EU-25 Member States can reach their individual Kyoto targets. Those that are currently not on track have recently identified or are in the process of identifying supplementary actions. To be effective and timely in reducing emissions, such measures must be introduced and implemented swiftly however.

Emissions targets for 2020

At their spring European Council last March, EU Heads of State and Government pledged that the EU would reduce its emissions in the order of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 provided that other developed countries agreed to make similar efforts. The EU leaders committed the EU to cutting its emissions by at least 20% over the same period in any case, and endorsed the package of climate and energy measures put forward by the Commission last January as the basis for achieving this goal.

The latest projections show that to reach these targets for 2020, the EU will have to put emissions on a much steeper reduction path after 2012. This underlines the need for the EU and Member States to put in place the policies and measures set out in the climate and energy package as soon as possible. The Commission intends to propose a number of key measures in early 2008.


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