Friday, June 23, 2006

Climate change: More effort needed to reverse EU's greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU-15 member states rose by 0.3% between 2003 and 2004, says the European Commission. Despite this rise, EU-15 emissions stood 0.9% lower than in the base year (mostly 1990) even though the EU-15 recorded economic growth of 32% over the same period. Nevertheless greater efforts are needed to reduce EU-15 emissions to 8% below base year levels for the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period (2008-2012). The forthcoming national allocations of emission allowances for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will be a crucial tool for ensuring member states achieve their Kyoto targets. EU-25 emissions, for which there is no collective Kyoto target, rose by 0.4% from 2003 to 2004 but were still 7.3% below base year levels.

"To meet our emissions reduction target member states need to intensify their efforts to implement the many EU measures to combat climate change that have been agreed over the past few years. With their new national allocation plans, due by the end of this month, member states now have a major opportunity to reverse unsustainable emission trends and ensure they will achieve their Kyoto targets. "It is very encouraging that we have broken the link between economic growth and greenhouse gas emissions, but this decoupling needs to be accelerated," Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.The inventory for 2004, compiled by the European Environment Agency, shows an overall increase of 11.5 million tonnes, or 0.3%, in EU-15 emissions of greenhouse gases (expressed in CO2 equivalents) compared with 2003. Emissions rose in 10 of the EU-15 member states and fell in the five others (see Annex for details).

The 0.3% rise brought down the reduction in EU-15 emissions since the base year to 0.9% in 2004 from 1.2% in 2003.

The 2004 increase in EU-15 emissions was mainly due to higher CO2 emissions from road transport, iron and steel production and oil refining, as well as increased emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - one of the most powerful families of greenhouse gases - from refrigeration and air conditioning. On the positive side, there were falls in CO2 emissions from households and services and from electricity and heat production, as well as reductions in emissions of methane from landfills and from coal mining and handling.

The 2004 result puts actual EU-15 emissions further above the level they are projected to be at if policies and measures agreed at EU level were fully implemented. The widening divergence between projected and actual emissions indicates that member states have been slow with implementation of their measures and need to accelerate their efforts.

This makes it all the more important that member states make their national allocation plans (NAPs) for 2008-2012 under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme strict enough to ensure that they meet their Kyoto targets. The NAPs will set a cap on overall emissions from the energy-intensive sectors producing almost half of the EU's CO2 emissions. They will also determine how many emission credits member states intend to obtain from emission-saving projects in third countries. The NAPs must be submitted by 30 June, after which the Commission has three months to approve them or require changes.

Results from a number of member states also show that other EU and national measures are proving successful in decreasing emissions where implemented effectively. For example, Germany reduced its overall emissions by 0.9% in 2003-2004 as it increased the share of renewable energy sources in its electricity production from 7.9% to 9.4%. At the same time, Denmark's emissions fell by 8.1% as its renewables share rose from 13.4% to 14.2% and an energy efficiency drive helped reduce household energy consumption by 1.8%.

"Examples of successful implementation such as these need to be replicated across the EU to help ensure we reach our emissions targets," Commissioner Dimas underlined.
For further details of 2004 greenhouse gas emissions, see annex as well as the EEA press release at:


More than 30 policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been implemented at EU level as a result of the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP), set up by the Commission in 2000. Measures developed from the ECCP's work include the EU's innovative emissions trading scheme, the directive on energy efficiency standards for buildings and legislation on fluorinated industrial gases. Some of these important measures were not yet implemented in 2004.

The second phase of the ECCP was launched in October 2005. It will give particular attention to reviewing the state of implementation of ECCP I, to capture and storage of carbon emissions and to emissions from road vehicles and aviation. The role of the EU in reducing society's vulnerability to climate change and promoting adaptation to it will also be explored. Further policy initiatives in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy are also foreseen.
More information on the EU's fight against climate change can be found at :


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