Economic crisis helping EU to fight global warming
By Benjamin Fox
Carbon emissions in the EU fell by 1.4 percent in 2012, raising hope the bloc will hit its targets on global warming gasses.
The European Commission released the figures on Tuesday (2 April), with data from 89 percent of the roughly 12,000 installations in the EU emission's trading scheme (ETS) indicating that emissions fell to 1.79 billion tonnes last year.
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The figures, which will be confirmed in May, show two consecutive reductions in carbon emissions after a 2.8 percent dip in 2011.
The results put the EU on track to meet its existing targets for a 20 percent reduction in overall emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels.
It is also aiming for a 20 percent increase in renewable energy and a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency in the same time frame.
That said, economic analysts claim that the decline in emissions is partly the result of reduced manufacturing output in Europe caused by the recession and financial crisis.
According to the data, emissions from the industrial sector fell by 3.9 percent in 2012.
At the same time, EU countries which rely heavily on coal - among the cheapest of fuels, saw emissions increase - with Britain, France and Germany seeing a rise of 4.7 percent, 3.9 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively.
Economic stagnation in Europe has also hit the ETS itself, which allows firms to buy permits for CO2 emissions and trade them with other gas-emitting firms.
The crisis has seen the price of the allowances tumble from a peak of €30 to just €3 today, putting the viability of the project in doubt.
The EU parliament is preparing to vote in April on a plan to rescue the ETS.
Lawmakers are also bidding to set ambitious new targets for emission reduction. Last week the European Commission released a Green paper with a view to agreeing on binding emissions targets for 2030.
But with the European economy expected to remain in recession for most of 2013, whatever happens in Brussels, the EU's overall output of CO2 is likely to go down again next year.