Further action needed to reach EU climate change target, projections show

December 9, 2002

Copenhagen, 06 Dec 2002

Further action needed to reach EU climate change target, projections show

Policy measures taken so far by European Union countries to curb their emissions of greenhouse gases fall well short of enabling the EU to meet its obligations under the Kyoto climate change protocol, latest projections show. But additional measures under discussion, if fully implemented, as well as use of emissions trading or other instruments could still ensure that the EU complies with its target.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU is required to cut its combined emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases (GHGs) to an average of 8% below 1990 levels in the years 2008 to 2012.

A "burden-sharing" agreement between the 15 EU Member States has imposed legally binding limits on how much each can emit within this overall target (see Annex for details).

The latest projections provided by Member States show that existing policies and measures – those already being implemented at domestic or European level - will yield a total EU emissions cut of 4.7% by 2010. This is 3.3 percentage points short of the Kyoto requirement (see Annex).

"Existing measures will not be sufficient for the EU to reach its Kyoto target," concludes a report on the projections prepared by the European Environment Agency (EEA) and its European Topic Centre on Air and Climate Change.

The accuracy of the projections is subject to uncertainties over the methodologies used and whether existing or planned measures will be fully implemented.

Most of the projected 4.7% decrease from existing measures would be due to Germany, Sweden and the UK cutting emissions by more than they are required to do under the burden-sharing deal – something which cannot be taken for granted.

If these three countries merely met their burden-sharing targets instead of "over-complying", the overall EU emissions decrease by 2010 would be minimal at only around 0.6%.

Based on policies and measures implemented so far, all of the 12 other Member States are projected to have emissions in 2010 above their burden-sharing targets.

The projected exceedances range from 3.4 percentage points for Denmark up to 33.3 percentage points for Spain (see Annex).

Better prospects with additional measures

In practice, the EU and most Member States are planning additional policies and measures to limit emissions. Assuming that all of those under discussion will be fully implemented and will have the effects expected of them, the total EU emissions cut projected is 12.4% - well beyond the 8% decrease required by Kyoto (see Annex).

Even under this "additional measures" scenario, however, at least five Member States – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Spain – would still exceed their burden-sharing limits. (Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden have yet to specify emissions savings from any additional policies and measures they are considering).

These exceedances would be more than compensated by "over-compliance" by Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and the UK.

However, such over-achievement can, again, not be assumed since it is not required. If these six countries only achieved their targets without doing more, the total EU emissions cut would be 6.2% - still leaving a shortfall of 1.8 percentage points (see Annex for details).

Besides implementing policies and measures, countries can also use some or all of the Protocol's mechanisms – emissions trading, joint implementation and the clean development mechanism – to meet their emissions targets. A further option is to take into account the sequestration of carbon by forests, soils and agriculture.

An internal EU emissions trading scheme proposed by the European Commission will be discussed by EU environment ministers at their meeting on 9-10 December.

Little information is available yet on the extent to which EU Member States intend to make use of these possibilities to help meet their emissions targets, however. Consequently the report, Greenhouse gas emission trends and projections in Europe, does not assess the contribution that these options could make to achieving EU compliance with the Kyoto target.

As reported by the EEA in April, EU GHG emissions fell by 3.5% between 1990 and 2000, the latest year for which complete data are available.

The latest projections show that without additional measures, possibly combined with use of the Kyoto mechanisms and/or carbon sequestration, further reductions up to 2010 will be relatively small.

Transport is the fastest-growing source of EU GHG emissions, largely because of rapid increases in road transport of both passengers and freight.

While most sectors in the EU cut their GHG emissions between 1990 and 2000, those from transport rose by nearly 20%. Based on existing measures, this increase is projected to reach 28% by 2010.

By contrast,

EU GHG emissions from energy supply and use (excluding transport) are projected to be 16% below 1990 levels in 2010 on the basis of existing measures and 20% lower with additional measures. However, EU targets for increasing renewable energy and combined heat and power (CHP) are unlikely to be met with existing measures alone.

Based on existing measures, EU GHG emissions from agriculture are projected to fall to 7% below 1990 levels in 2010. This would be due to continuing reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and implementation of the EU nitrates directive, resulting in reductions in fertiliser use and the number of cattle.

EU GHG emissions from the waste sector are projected to decrease by about 60% between 1990 and 2010 on the basis of both existing and additional measures. This cut would be mainly due to implementation of the EU directive on landfilling of waste.

The report shows that five countries in central and eastern Europe that are expected to join the EU in 2004 are on track to meet their own Kyoto commitments on the basis of existing policies and measures alone, according to the most recent information they have provided. These are the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Poland and the Slovak Republic. The other five countries in the region did not provide projections.

Poland and Hungary are required to reduce their emissions by 6% while the others have the same -8% target as the EU.

The full report and a summary are posted on the EEA website at http://reports.eea.eu.int/ report_2002_1205_091750. Printed copies will be available on request from next month.

Notes for editors

The Kyoto Protocol, which is expected to enter force during 2003, will control industrialised countries' emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), plus three fluorinated industrial gases: hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6). The EU is responsible for around 24% of industrialised countries' man-made emissions of the six gases.

Policies and measures are regulatory, negotiated or economic instruments at EU or national level which have the effect of reducing emissions. Examples include energy-efficiency legislation, the voluntary agreement between the European Commission and the car industry on reducing CO2 emissions from new passenger cars, and energy/carbon taxes.

Concern over the accuracy of the combined projections provided by Member States has arisen because of differences between the results of these and of separate EU-wide projections. Preliminary EU-wide projections for energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, which account for about 80% of total EU GHG emissions, show an increase of 4% up to 2010 while the aggregated Member State projections based on existing measures see a decrease of 2%. The main reason for this is that Germany projects a substantially larger decrease for itself than the EU-wide study does. The source of the difference requires further analysis.

The report serves to support, complement and provide additional analysis for the European Commission's annual evaluation report under the EU greenhouse gas emissions monitoring mechanism (Council Decision 1999/296/EC ). The Commission will publish its report shortly at this address: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/environmen t/climat/gge.htm

The EU has agreed that the accession countries' emissions will not be counted towards its – 8% Kyoto target even after these countries join the EU.

About the EEA

The European Environment Agency is the main source of information used by the European Union and its Member States in developing environment policies. The Agency aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-making agents and the public. Established by the EU in 1990 and operational in Copenhagen since 1994, the EEA is the hub of the European environment information and observation network (EIONET), a network of around 300 bodies across Europe through which it both collects and disseminates environment-related data and information.

The Agency, which is open to all nations that share its objectives, currently has 29 member countries. These are the 15 EU Member States; Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, which are members of the European Economic Area; and 11 of the 13 accession or candidate countries - Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and the Slovak Republic. The EEA is the first EU body to take in the accession countries. Poland will join the Agency on 1 January 2003 and it is anticipated that Turkey will ratify its membership agreement within the next few months. This will take the Agency's membership to 31 countries. Membership negotiations with Switzerland, which is not in the EU, are also under way.

For further information
Tony Carritt
Media Relations Manager
Phone: +45 3336 7147
Fax: +45 3336 7198

For public enquiries:
EEA Information Centre


Table 1: EU and national Kyoto Protocol targets for 2008-2012, compared with emissions projections based on existing measures and additional measures


© EEA, Copenhagen 2002
European Environment Agency
EEA Information Centre information.centre@eea.eu.int

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