EU to set 2005 climate target for Kyoto

Ministers expected to agree 7.5% interim cut in greenhouse gas emissions

The European Union is likely to agree a target of cutting greenhouse gases by 7.5% by 2005 at next week's quarterly ministerial Environment Council. According to the draft Council conclusions, most EU countries believe the 7.5% figure proposed by the Dutch Presidency is a "good basis for agreement".

At their last formal meeting, Environment ministers agreed on a 15% cut by 2010, but could not agree on an interim figure for 2005 (ENDS Daily 3 March). If they agree it, as expected, next week, the figure will become the EU negotiating position at the key meeting of parties to the UN climate change convention, due in December in Kyoto, Japan.

The Presidency would like the EU to agree a bigger cut than 7.5% (ENDS Daily 4 June). Its official proposal for the ministerial is for the EU to adopt a 2005 target cut "at least half of the reduction below 1990 proposed for 2010." In this it is supported by Denmark, Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and the European Commission, which want a 10% cut for 2005.

For the time being, national burden sharing arrangements for 2005 have been put on ice. The draft Council conclusions promise to come back to the issue after 2010 arrangements have been made, but some countries would prefer to put off any decisions on burden sharing for 2005 until after Kyoto.

The draft conclusions admit that "further work is needed" if the EU is to meet its negotiating targets. A Council working group is expected to inform environment ministers of progress in October.

In the meantime, the Council has singled out methane for special attention. In November, the Commission launched a strategy paper on reducing emissions of methane - which is the most important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide. Some countries - notably the UK and France - are uneasy about making proposals on methane at this stage.

The draft conclusions call on the Commission to "further elaborate its action programme in the field of agriculture, waste and energy." This includes proposals on reducing emissions from oil and natural gas production, converting methane from waste into energy and using best available techniques to recover methane from coal-mines.

In a thinly veiled reference to the United States and Japan - which have yet to set national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions - the draft conclusions state that the Council "regrets that not all industrialised countries have come forward with proposals for quantified targets or common and coordinated policies and measures." The Council "calls upon countries proposing emissions trading to indicate the targets they envisage for 2005 and 2010."

Follow Up:
Council of Ministers , tel: +32 2 285 6111.

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