Press Release

EU looks to fill the gap to its target by using Kyoto Mechanisms

Press Release Published 01 Dec 2005 Last modified 28 Jun 2016
5 min read
If every EU country sticks to its plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and uses the Kyoto mechanisms the EU 15 can go beyond its Kyoto targets, says a new report by the European Environment Agency (EEA) released today in Copenhagen.

PRESS RELEASE - Copenhagen, 01 December 2005

In 2003, the EU 15 Member States were just over one fifth of the way to meeting their 2010 Kyoto target of an 8% decrease on the 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions. "However, if the EU had taken no measures at all, emissions would have been about 5% higher than they are today", says Jacqueline McGlade.

The report, 'Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe 2005', also shows that projected emission cuts on their own will not be enough. The carbon that is being released will need to be offset in other ways, such as through the Kyoto mechanisms. 

The Kyoto Mechanisms are systems whereby carbon released in the developed world can be offset by investment in clean technology projects in other developed countries or developing countries where costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are cheaper.

"If all plans for reductions are achieved and the Kyoto Mechanisms are used, the EU 15 could actually hit a 9.3% reduction, which is 1.3 % better than the target " says Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency. 

The nine Member States planning to use the Kyoto Mechanisms are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain. They have put aside a combined total of EUR 2,730 million over the period up to 2012 for obtaining emission allowances through the Mechanisms. 

"To date, the policies in place need to be implemented to meet the challenge," says Professor Jacqueline McGlade, "There is a low carbon future for Europe but to get there we need to use all the measures at our disposal: investment in renewables, more efficient use of energy and other resources, and the use of financial and legal measures."

New policies (not yet included in the projections) include the Emissions Trading Scheme: an EU scheme whereby industries emitting C02 can buy emission reductions from other industries if those other industries can reduce emissions more cheaply. Promoting electricity from renewable energy in industry, transport, households and energy efficiency are also key policies.

All ten new Member States are either on track to meet or over-achieve their Kyoto targets by 2010. In 2003 emissions were 32% below the 1990 figure. This was due mostly to the closure of heavily polluting and energy intensive industries in the 1990s. However, emissions are expected to increase between 2003 and 2010.

Within the EU15, greenhouse gas emissions have dropped in energy production, industry, agriculture and waste. However, emissions from transport - mainly road transport - is now 24% higher than 1990 levels, and this figure is expected to grow to 31% by 2010.

The rise in transport emissions is due to the growth in both passenger and freight transport. This has partly offset EU efforts, such as the 1998/99 agreement with European, Japanese and Korean car makers to reduce average CO2 emissions of new passenger cars.

See report: "Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe",

The EEA report also serves to support and complement the annual evaluation report on progress of the EU to the Kyoto targets, prepared by the European Commission to the Council and European Parliament.

Notes to the Editor:

  1. Data Source
    The report is based on data and information submitted
    by the countries in May - June 2005
  2. EU-15 emission trends 1990-2003
    As presented by EEA in a report published in June 2005, by 2003 - the latest year for which complete data are available - greenhouse gas emissions had been reduced by 1.7% in the EU-15 compared with 1990 levels,
  3. EU Emissions Trading System
    The EU Emission Trading Scheme requires all large CO2 emission sources, such as steel, glass and power plants (more than 11.000 throughout the EU) to decrease emissions for 2005-2007 through trading  emission allowances with companies where reductions can be done cheapest. So, for example, plants investing in energy savings, would produce lower emissions after the introduction of alternative clean technologies. They could then trade the surplus on their CO2 emissions allowance with companies that either find investing in emissions reduction too expensive or which need to produce greater levels of emissions due to growth.

    In 2006 'emission caps' - a maximum emissions level - for the trading sector will be set by governments for the Kyoto period. After 2006, companies needing to increase their CO2 emissions will either have to invest in new technologies or trade with other companies for the allowances.  By 2006 the effects of the scheme for achieving the Kyoto targets will become clearer.
  4. Kyoto Mechanisms
    The Kyoto Mechanisms help developed countries contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and achieve their targets. They can also help to transfer clean technologies. This is done by cooperation with developing countries through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) or other developed countries through Joint Implementation (JI). This is done through projects which can reduce emissions for lower costs than those in the original countries.

    For example, the costs of CO2 reductions in a project, such as rural electrification using solar panels in a developing country, are lower than those costs in developed countries. Greenhouse gas reductions made in the developing country are then certified by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's CDM Executive Board  and transferred to the developed country to be used as part of its commitment to the Kyoto targets.

About the EEA

The European Environment Agency is the leading public body in Europe dedicated to providing sound, independent information on the environment to policy-makers and the public. The EEA has been operational in Copenhagen since 1994.

Annex 1

Projections on meeting the national Kyoto burden sharing targets based on greenhouse gas emissions, as reported by countries (May -- July 2005)



Projected to meet its national target through:


- Existing domestic policies and measures

Sweden, UK

Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Slovak Republic

- Existing and planned domestic policies and measures

France, Germany, Greece


- Existing domestic policies and measures and use of Kyoto mechanisms



- Existing and planned domestic policies and measures and use of Kyoto mechanisms

Austria, Belgium, Finland, Netherlands


Projected not to meet its national target

Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain


No Kyoto Protocol target


Malta, Cyprus

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