Air Clean Up

  • Deep Emission Cuts Give the EU a Head Start Under the  Kyoto Protocol

Deep Emission Cuts Give the EU a Head Start Under the Kyoto Protocol

Feb 11 2011 Read 955 Times

A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that large drop in emissions seen in 2008 and 2009 gives EU-15 a head start to reach and even overachieve its 8 % reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. Austria, Denmark and Italy, however, need to step up their current efforts until 2012 to ensure that their contribution to the common EU-15 target is delivered. The EEA report also shows that EU-27 is well on track towards achieving its 20 % reduction target by 2020.

The EEA report ‘Tracking progress towards Kyoto and 2020 targets’ presents an overview of the progress actually seen in 2008 (and 2009 where data are available) in European countries towards their respective targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Based on aggregated emission projections at EU level, the report also presents an assessment of projected progress of the EU-15 towards its 8 % reduction commitment and of the EU-27 towards its 20 % reduction target by 2020.

’We cannot afford to wait until after the end of the Kyoto period to start implementing policies targeting sectors not covered by the EU ETS, such as transport and residential heating. These sectors are crucial for the EU targets set for 2020,’ said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.

Key findings: 

  • When looking at 2008 and 2009, the two first years of the Kyoto commitment period, the EU-15 appears to be well on track towards achieving its commitment of reducing emissions by 8 % compared to base-year levels. Together, the EU-15 countries are estimated to have reduced their average annual emissions over these two years by more than 250 million tonnes CO2 equivalent beyond the reductions needed for achieving their common Kyoto target. This puts EU-15 collectively 5.9 % below the 8 % Kyoto reduction target. The figures take into account the planned use of the Kyoto Protocol’s flexible mechanisms by governments (2.7 % of base-year emissions) and the expected sequestration of atmospheric carbon due to forestry activities (1.0 % of base-year emissions). However, failure by any EU-15 Member State to achieve its own burden-sharing target could jeopardize the possibility for the EU-15 to achieve its common target.
  • Current emission levels and projections show that the EU is well on track towards achieving its 2020 reduction target of 20 % with emission reductions achieved in the EU territories only, provided that Member States fully implement the Climate and Energy package adopted in 2009. Recent estimates by the EEA also confirm this downward trend, with the EU-27’s 2009 emissions expected to stand 17.3 % below their 1990 level.
  • Based on their 2008 emission levels, almost all European countries with a Kyoto target were on track to meet their individual targets. However, three EU Member States (Austria, Denmark and Italy), two other EEA countries (Liechtenstein and Switzerland) and one EU candidate country (Croatia) need to step up their efforts before 2012 to be able to meet their targets.
  • Because the allocation of emission allowances to the EU ETS is already decided upon for the full period 2008–2012, reducing emissions in the sectors not covered by the EU ETS – such as transport, residential heating, agriculture or waste – are necessary for achieving the Kyoto targets.
  • The economic crisis largely contributed to the drop in total EU-27 greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 compared to 2008 (by 6.9 % according to EEA estimates), but its impact was felt less significantly in the sectors not included in the EU ETS (– 3.3%) than in the sectors included (– 11.7 %). Return to economic growth could temporarily level off or even reverse the decline in emissions, but the declining trend is expected to continue.

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