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

A new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) shows that large drop in emissions seen in 2008 and 2009 gives the 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.

Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA.

“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,” says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA.

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.

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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