The challenge facing Austria in meeting its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions looks increasingly daunting following the release of new figures showing that national carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose by 3.2% between 1996 and 1997. According to a statement issued by the country's environment ministry on Friday, CO2 emissions reached 66m tonnes in 1997, up 6% on 1990 levels. Austria is committed under the Kyoto climate change protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13% between 1990 and 2008-2012. The country also has a voluntary national objective of cutting CO2 by 20% between 1998 and 2005. Last autumn, the International Energy Agency suggested that both targets were probably unrealistic given current trends (ENDS Daily 13 November 1998). Commenting on the latest figures, the environment ministry stressed that if adjusted for temperature and economic activity, Austrian CO2 emissions in fact remained virtually stable between 1991 and 1997. Emissions in 1990 were unusually low, it pointed out. It conceded, nevertheless, that greater efforts had to be made for Austria to reach its climate policy objectives.
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