A recent report by the European Environment Agency shows that the European Union and all Member States but one are on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitments to limit and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Whereas the Protocol requires that the EU-15 reduce average emissions during 2008–2012 to 8 % below 1990 levels, the latest projections indicate that the EU-15 will go further, reaching a total reduction of more than 13 % below the base year.
The EEA report shows that the reductions in the period 2008–2012 will be achieved through a combination of existing and additional policies, the purchase by governments of credits from emission-reducing projects outside the EU, the trading of emission allowances by participants in the EU emission trading scheme (EU ETS) and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The trading scheme primarily covers large carbon-emitting industries, which represent about 40 % of EU greenhouse gas emissions.
Looking further ahead, almost three quarters of the EU’s unilateral target to cut emissions to 20 % below 1990 levels by 2020 could be achieved domestically (ie without purchase of credits outside the EU).
Five EU-15 Member States (France, Germany, Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom) have already reduced domestic emissions below their targets. OnlyAustria expects to fall short of its commitment under current conditions and will have to intensify its efforts to reduce emissions in non-ETS sectors.