EU's climate change challenge underlined

Official figures confirm growing need for common measures, action by laggard states

Official statistics on greenhouse gas emissions by EU countries up to 1998 have underlined the challenge facing the bloc as it limbers up to try and meet its Kyoto protocol commitment of an 8% cut from 1990 levels by 2008-12. But projections are much more optimistic than EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström allowed when proposing joint EU climate policies and measures in March (ENDS Daily 8 March).

The European Commission report stresses a growing need for "common and coordinated policies and measures" to plug a projected gap of up to eight percentage points between the target and likely achievement by 2010. It further warns that a majority of EU countries are set to substantially miss their targets (see table 1 below) and calls on these states to take firm action rather than relying on big cuts by Germany and the UK to pull the rest of the bloc through.

EU 1990-98 emissions data is already in the public domain (ENDS Daily 28 June), but the new figures are both more detailed and more accurate following statistical revision. More illuminating still, the Commission also projects national and EU trends to 2010, bang in the middle of the first Kyoto "commitment period".

Based on existing EU and national policies and measures, EU emissions of the three main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) - excluding land-use change and forestry - are projected at between 0% and 1.4% below 1990 levels in 2010. Additional measures proposed but not yet implemented by member states could take the cut to 7%, just one percentage point off the EU's Kyoto commitment.

Data on the three fluorinated greenhouse gases controlled under the Kyoto protocol are not included due to incomplete reporting by EU states. Though indicative estimates suggest a 73% increase in carbon dioxide equivalent to 2010, the Commission stresses that the overall trends are not expected to be significantly affected.

In addition to national aggregate figures, the report presents 1990-98 emission trends for key economic sectors (see table 2). These confirm that transport emissions have risen most strongly, followed by "small combustion". Energy (mainly electricity production) industries and manufacturing industries have both cut emissions.

-------------------------------------------------
Table 1:
EU greenhouse gas emissions commitments, trend to
1998, and 2010 projections relative to 1990
         Burden share   1991-1998     Projection
          commitment      trend         to 2010
-------------------------------------------------
TOTAL EU      -8%          -2.5%          -1.4%
Austria      -13%          +4.1%          +7.7%
Belgium       -7.5%        +6.3%         +13.5%
Denmark      -21%          +8.7%         -16.5%
Finland        0%          +4.7%         +25.9%
France         0%          +1.0%         +11.2%
Germany      -21%         -15.8%         -19.1%
Greece       +25%         +15.0%         +29.0%
Ireland      +13%         +19.1%         +29.0%
Italy         -6.5%        +4.6%          -0.3%
Luxembourg   -28%         -58.4%         -23.4%
Netherlands   -6%          +8.2%         +16.6%
Portugal     +27%         +17.8%         +56.6%
Spain        +15%         +19.4%         +18.8%
Sweden        +4%          +1.2%         +17.1
UK           -12.5%        -9.5%         -12.6%
--------------------------------------------------

----------------------------------------------------
Table 2:
EU greenhouse gas emission trends for four economic
sectors from 1990 to 1998
             energy    manufac-  transport   small
           industries   turing            combustion
----------------------------------------------------
TOTAL EU      -6.2%     -5.7%     +15.3%     +3.0%
Austria       -5.9%     +9.6%     +23.5%    +11.6%
Belgium      -14.4%    +19.4%     +20.1%    +22.3%
Denmark      -20.2%     +4.2%     +15.6%     -6.7%
Finland      +16.3%     +8.4%      +3.4%     -8.8%
France        +3.6%     +0.7%     +13.8%     +9.6$
Germany      -17.9%    -25.0%     +11.4%     -6.0%
Greece       +15.9%     +7.0%     +29.4%    +30.0%
Ireland      +36.1%     +2.2%     +76.8%     +2.5%
Italy         +9.2%     +2.0%     +15.2%     +2.4%
Luxembourg   -96.5%    -78.4%     -56.2%    +49.3%
Netherlands  +11.3%     +5.7%     +21.6%     +2.1%
Portugal     +17.8%    +15.1%     +41.9%    +34.0%
Spain         +5.9%    +23.0%     +35.1%    +16.7%
Sweden        +9.9%     -6.5%     +13.3%     -9.9%
UK           -17.1%     -6.3%      +5.3%     +5.6%
----------------------------------------------------    

Follow Up:
European Commission DG Environment, tel: +32 2 299 1111, and the Report under Council Decision 1999/296/EC. See also European Environment Agency Topic Report No 6/2000, and library of EU climate change reports.

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