Europe is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol target despite an increase in emissions of 2.4% in 2010, according to Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.
The European Environment Agency’s (EEA) latest analysis of greenhouse gas emissions in the region blames a return to economic growth and the cold winter for the increase in emissions.
But overall, the region’s emissions were 15.5% lower than in 1990 despite economic growth of 41%. The EU-15’s emissions were down over 10% on 1990 levels, well ahead of the Kyoto Protocol’s legally binding target of 8% by 2012.
The latest figures indicate that the EU is successfully decoupling emissions from economic growth, with emissions falling over 7% between 2008 and 2009 in the EU-27, while GDP contracted 4% over the same period.
Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, says that a variety of policies have played a roll driving down emissions, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and efforts to reduce water pollution from agriculture.
“This experience shows we can reduce emissions further if we consider the climate impacts of various policies more systematically,” she says.
Europe’s efforts need to be continued adds Hedegaard, given the 2.4% rise seen over the last year.
“Pursuing our efforts to make Europe a low-carbon society is the way forward. It will stimulate technological innovation, spur economic growth and create jobs while further reducing emissions so that we meet our 2020 climate and energy targets and long term goals,” commented Hedegaard.
Despite the good progress, the report warns that Austria, Italy and Luxembourg are still lagging behind their Kyoto Protocol targets at the end of 2010 and need to implement planned measures.
Meanwhile, slow progress is being made on the successor to the Kyoto Protocol. EU environment ministers at a meeting in Brussels yesterday agreed to commit to a new phase of the Kyoto climate change pact if other nations join up too.
In particular, the US although it sign has never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and other developing nations that were excluded from the original agreement like China and India are now major emitters.
The EU is outlining its stance ahead of the United Nations climate change meeting in Durban this November.
It is unlikely that the meeting will agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol but the latest round of pre-meeting international talks in Panama indicate that an agreement could be reached on how to raise $100 billion a year to help developing countries tackle climate change as agree at last year’s Cancun summit.
For further information:
China to invest in low-carbon economy (26-Sept)
European Parliament votes against 30% emission reduction target (6-Jul)
UN climate change talks in Bonn leave much to be decided (20-Jun)
Industrialised nations fail to deliver on climate funding for developing world (9-May)
11 October 2011