What are base-year emissions?

HelpCenter FAQ
What is the base year? How can it be used to track performance towards targets for Member States, EU-15 and EU-27?

Under the Kyoto Protocol the GHG emission level in the 'base year' is the relevant starting point for tracking progress of domestic emissions for EU-15 and all Member States which have a Kyoto target. The EU-27 does not have a Kyoto target and an aggregated base year for the EU-27 is therefore not applicable in any discussion of progress towards Kyoto targets.


Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU-15 has taken on a common commitment to reducing emissions by 8 % between 2008–2012 compared to the emissions in the so called 'base year'. The base year is not a 'year' per se, but corresponds to an emission level from which emission reductions will take place.

The EU-15 Member States have distributed the burden of reaching the – 8 % target among themselves, allowing individual Member States to take on varying degrees of emission reductions compared to their base-year emissions. Thus, progress towards targets for each Member State starts from its own individual base-year emissions level.

For carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), 1990 is used as the 'base year' for all EU-15 Member States. But for fluorinated gases, the EU-15 Member States can choose to use the emission levels in 1995 instead. Twelve of the 15 Member States have chosen to use 1995 as their base year for fluorinated gas emissions.

For the EU-15, base-year emissions were slightly higher than the 1990 levels. Therefore, progress towards the – 8 % common target is better. In practice, EU-15 base-year emissions can be considered close to 1990 emissions.


In March 2007, the Council of the European Union decided that EU would make a firm independent commitment to achieving at least a 20 % reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1990. Nonetheless, the relevant 'base year' for the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol should be taken into account when distributing the burden among Member State

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