27th Feb 2024

EU-15 mostly on track to meet Kyoto targets

The 15 'old' European Union member states are on track to meeting their targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions that they signed up to under the 1997 Kyoto Agreement.

The EU-15 as a whole, excluding member states that joined in 2004 and 2007, should meet its collective target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by eight percent for the period 2008-2012 compared with 1990, the Kyoto agreement's baseline year.

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  • Reforestation alone will not be enough to reduce emissions for the EU-15 (Photo: Wikipedia)

While Denmark, Italy and Spain are behind in reducing emissions, the performance of the other EU-15 nations is enough to pick up the slack so that the EU-15 overall should meet its Kyoto commitments, according to figures in a report from the European Environment Agency (EEA).

"Emission performance remains mixed in the EU-15. A few member states are still off their Kyoto track," said Jacqueline McGlade, the executive director of the agency.

The EEA figures show that as of 2006, four EU-15 Member States - France, Greece, Sweden and the UK - had already reached a level below their Kyoto target.

Eight additional other states - Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal - project that they will achieve their targets in the future.

The reductions are being achieved by a combination of domestic policies and measures, reforestation and buying "carbon offsets," in which the countries pay for other states to make the carbon reductions on their behalf.

The EU-15 have already cut emissions by 2.7 percent, which should climb to 3.6 percent by 2010. Reforestation counts for 1.4 percent of the eight percent cut, and the purchase of carbon offset credits through "Kyoto mechanisms" delivers another three percent.

Most of the EU-15 are planning for reforestation to achieve much of their Kyoto target. However, the total amount of carbon dioxide that could be removed annually between 2008 and 2012 is relatively small (1.4 percent compared to 1990), according to the EEA, although it is somewhat higher than the projections made in 2007.

This means that the countries may have to purchase more carbon offset credits to make up the difference.

"In the end, some member states might make use of Kyoto mechanisms more intensively than they are currently planning," the report says.

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