Sunday

14th Aug 2022

EU states lose grip on climate change targets

Further efforts are needed to tackle climate change, the UN has warned in a fresh report, with greenhouse gas emissions in many EU states rising instead of decreasing.

The Bonn-based United Nations Climate Change secretariat in a report released on Thursday (17 November) warned that the western world is losing its grip on the climate change problem.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

UN researchers found that overall in the industrialised world, greenhouse gas emissions were down 5.9 percent in 2003 compared to the 1990 levels.

But the UN report says a large part of the reductions were achieved in Central and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, as heavily-polluting industry stemming from the communist era were shut down as these countries restructured their economies.

Richard Kinley, acting head of the UN climate change body, said: "What we see is that the emissions from developed countries as a group have been stable in recent years and not decreased as they did in the early 1990s. Moreover, greenhouse gas projections indicate the possibility of emission growth by 2010."

"It means that ensuring sustained and deeper emission reductions remains a challenge for developed countries," he added.

The EU as a bloc achieved a reduction of 1.4 percent in emissions from 1990 to 2003, still far away from the minus 8 percent target in 2012 that the Europeans have set themselves in the framework of the international Kyoto protocol.

Former communist new member states witnessed sizable reductions as dirty plants closed, with the largest cuts reported in Latvia (58%) and Lithuania (66%).

However, most "old" member states have seen emissions increasing instead of decreasing.

Eleven of the fifteen old member states have reported emissions going up instead of down since 1990, with huge increases seen in Spain (41.7%), Portugal (36.7%), Greece (25.8%), Ireland (25.6%), Finland (21.5%) and Austria (16.5%).

Only Germany (-18.2%), France (-1.9%), the UK (-13%), Luxembourg (-16%) and Sweden (-2.3%) managed to cut emissions.

Under a "burden sharing agreement" facilitated by an emission rights trading scheme, the EU has set targets for each member state in order for the bloc as a whole to reach the Kyoto targets.

According to the agreement, some states like Portugal and Spain are allowed to increase their emissions, but not by the amounts the new UN report has recorded.

UK signals u-turn on climate deal

British environment secretary, Margaret Beckett, has suggested a u-turn in climate policies, suggesting voluntary targets for cutting emissions when the Kyoto climate agreement ends in 2012. Environmentalists say that, without mandatory targets, the climate deal is effectively dead.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

With the prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures, fears have emerged over water shortages and droughts decreasing crop yields — prompting calls to use less water and reuse urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us