3 December 2003

According to a new progress report on the emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHG) published by the European Commission (EC), the European Union will miss its emission targets set up by the Kyoto Protocol. The “with existing policies and measures” projection suggests that in 2010 the emissions will have decreased by only 0.5%, instead of the 8% Kyoto target.

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The decreasing emission trend which was observed after 1990 has been reversed in 2000 and 2001. Based on Member States projections, the report concludes that 13 out of 15 Member States—all with the exception of United Kingdom and Sweden—and the EU as a whole will miss their emission targets. Under Kyoto, by 2008-2012 the EU should reduce its GHG emissions by 8% relative to 1990 levels. Margot Wallström, the Commissioner for Environment, has urged all Member States to identify additional emission control measures for meeting the Kyoto targets.

In her letter to the Ministers of Environment, Wallström requested that Member States revisit and update national GHG reduction policies and measures within the next 12-18 months. She also announced a Communication during the first half of 2004 to develop options for further common policies and measures under the European Climate Change Program.

The EC report identifies the main sectors responsible for GHG emissions, indicating that one of the main reasons for missing the targets is a runaway increase in emissions from road transport. The most important sectors in 2001 were: (1) the energy industries, with a 27% share of the overall GHG emissions and a 2% reduction since 1990; (2) emissions from transport, with a 20% share and an increase of 20% since 1990; (3) combustion processes in households, public buildings and agriculture (16% share, 3% increase); and (4) manufacturing industries and construction (14% share, a decrease of 9%).

The European Commission’s GHG report references a recent report by the European Environment Agency (EEA), an advisory organization focused on assessing the state of environment across Europe. Both reports were published shortly before the 9th Conference of Parties (COP9) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), taking place in Milan from 1-12 December 2003, which will discuss progress in the Kyoto process.

The Kyoto Protocol, which establishes international GHG emission reduction targets, has two thresholds to enter into force. The first threshold requires that the Protocol is ratified by at least 55 countries. This number has been exceeded, currently reaching 120. The second threshold for the Kyoto Protocol’s entry into force requires the ratification of countries responsible for 55% of industrialized countries’ emissions in 1990. Countries that ratified Kyoto represent now 44.2% of emissions, 10.8% short of the objective. As long as the position of the USA (36.1% of emissions) to reject the Protocol remains unchanged, its adoption depends on signing by Russia (17.4%), who is still considering the ratification.

Source: European Commission