- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
Greenhouse gas emissions from the EU's 15 pre-2004 member states (EU15) dropped by 0.5 percent between 2001 and 2002, according to the latest estimates compiled by the European Environment Agency (EEA). The reasons for the decrease include warmer weather in most EU countries that reduced the use of CO2-producing fossil fuels to heat homes and offices. Other key reasons include lower economic growth in manufacturing industries - resulting in lower fossil-fuel use - a continuing shift from coal to gas, and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions of six greenhouse gases rose by 0.2 percent and 1.3 percent a year in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The fall in 2002 took total EU15 emissions to 2.9 percent below their level in the base year - 1990 in most cases - used for calculations. This represents an improvement on 2001, when emissions were only 2.1 percent lower than in the base year.
According to the EEA, the EU must bring emissions in 2008-2012 to 8 percent below the base-year level under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Assuming the 8 percent reduction between the base year and 2008-2012 were to follow a linear path, emissions should have fallen 4.8 percent by 2002.
On this basis, only four countries are on track to comply with the national targets that all pre-2004 member states have accepted under an agreement to ensure that the EU as a whole fulfils its Kyoto commitment. The four are France, Germany, Sweden and the U.K.
On the same basis, the other 11 pre-2004 member states are heading towards missing their emission targets, some by a substantial margin. This particularly is the case for Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Austria, Italy, Denmark and Greece. Spain faces a greater challenge to meet its target than any other member state with 2002 emissions 39.4 percent above their base-year level - more than double the 15-percent increase it is allowed between the base year and 2008-2012 under the EU agreement.
Since 2002, however, several EU and national initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been approved, which could lead to an acceleration of progress towards the Kyoto target. A report is available at http://reports.eea.eu.int/technical_report_2004_2/en.