Climate change affects our lives more and more every day. In December 1997, leaders from all over the world met in Kyoto (Japan) to agree to limit the amount of industrial gases their countries emit. Some stated their aim to cut emissions by as much as 8% from 1990 levelsby 2012. The agreement came into force on 16 February 2005.
The EU is a major supporter of the agreement, and has repeatedly shown its commitment to curbing global warming.
“It is clear that the fight against climate change is much more than a battle. It is a world war that will last for many years” said EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas recently.
The EU has taken a number of steps to reduce its emissions and meet its Kyoto commitments, in particular promoting clean energy sources such as wind, solar, wave and biomass. Energy‑efficiency measures are also playing a major role in cutting gases that cause pollution.
Under the slogan “It’s the small, simple things that will make a difference”, the Commission launched its ”You Control Climate Change” campaign in 2006. The campaign encourages Europeans to make small changes in their daily behaviour: reducing temperatures in their homes, using energy‑saving light bulbs, limiting their use of cars, etc.
Global warming isn’t just a European problem and the EU is finding ways to involve its international partners in the battle. Despite its failure to ratify the agreement, America is one of the countries the EU is approaching in this venture.
The Kyoto Protocol is only a first - but important - step. The EU has already started talks with 188 nations on further global action on climate change after 2012. Future commitments involve more funding to protect forests, develop new environment-friendly technologies and support bio-fuel production.