EU ahead of schedule on 2012 greenhouse gas emission cuts

The European Union is ahead of schedule on its Kyoto Protocol commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.

Under the Protocol, the 15 member states at the time agreed to reduce collective greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012 by an average of 8% compared to a base level (1990 in most cases).

In addition to this target, which was broken down into individual nation targets for each EU-15 member state, ten of the twelve member states that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 also have reduction targets of 6-8%.

Only two countries, Cyprus and Malta, have no emission reduction targets under the agreement.

According to the European Commission’s annual report, the 25 member states with reduction targets will meet the 2012 deadline. Data from 2008 – the most recent available – indicates that EU-15 emissions are already 6.9% down on base level years, while EU-27 emissions are 14.3% down.

The Commission’s progress report now indicates that EU-15 emissions will be 14.2% lower than base year levels over the 2008-2012 period if member states go ahead with plans to buy international emission credits and undertake afforestation and reforestation activities.

Without those additional measures, existing policies alone will deliver emission reductions of 10.4% on base year levels. Meanwhile, all EU-12 member states are also likely to over-achieve on their 6-8% reduction target.

A country-by-country analysis of actual 2008 emissions by the European Environment Agency (EEA) out yesterday backs up the predictions that the whole EU region is on track to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions by 2020.

But the report, Tracking progress towards Kyoto and 2020 targets, warns that Austria, Denmark and Italy need to step up current efforts to ensure they meet their 2012 commitments.

The EEA also cautions that the economic crisis made a significant contribution to the drop in EU-27 emissions in 2009 and a return to economic growth could level off or even reverse the decline in emissions.

“The facts show that the world can count on the EU; what we pledge we also deliver. In this case we are actually heading to overachieving,” says European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard.

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Related stories:
UK calls for 30% cut in EU emissions at climate meeting (11-Jun)
EU over half way to 20% cut in emissions by 2020 (7-Jun)
European Commission proposes increasing emissions reduction target to 30% (13-May)

13 October 2010