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You are here: Home / Media / News / 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

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.

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.

Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of EEA

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.
Kyoto

Notes to the editor

The EEA report 'Tracking progress towards Kyoto and 2020 targets' can be found at http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/progress-towards-kyoto/.

The European Commission also publishes a report today assessing the EU's progress towards the Kyoto commitments, which takes into account actual emissions and projections to the end of the 2008-2012 commitment period, whereas the EEA report is based on actual emissions in 2008 (and 2009 where data are available). As such, the two reports complement each other.

The EEA's report will be followed later in the year by an in-depth analysis of the links between historic emission trends and the policies and measures implemented in the EU.

Background on EU emission reduction commitments

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU-15 has a common commitment to reduce emissions on average by 8 % between 2008 and 2012 compared to emissions in the 'base year' (mostly 1990). Unlike the EU-15, the EU-27 does not have a common target under the Kyoto Protocol and therefore the EU-27 does not have an applicable base year against which to compare emission changes. Emission changes compared to 1990 are relevant for the EU-27 as it has made a unilateral commitment to achieve at least a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990.

About the European Environment Agency (EEA)

The EEA is based in Copenhagen. The Agency aims to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe’s environment by providing timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policymakers and the public.

EEA member countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom.

Contact information

For media inquiries:

Ms Gülçin Karadeniz,

Press officer

Phone: +45 3336 7172

Mobile: +45 2368 3653 

gulcin.karadeniz@eea.europa.eu

Ms Iben Stanhardt

Press officer

Phone: +45 3336 7168
Mobile: +45 2336 1381

Iben.stanhardt@eea.europa.eu

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