Brussels, 16 October 2008
The EU and most member states are on track to deliver on their Kyoto Protocol commitments for reducing or limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, the Commission's annual progress report on emissions shows. The latest projections from member states indicate that the EU-15 will achieve its 8% reduction target through a combination of policies and measures already taken, the purchase of emission credits from projects in third countries, and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere. Additional measures under discussion in a number of member states would bring a further 3.3% reduction, enabling the EU-15 to do better than its target requires.
Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The latest projections are good news. They show that Europe's coordinated action to reach the Kyoto targets is working. But Kyoto is only the first step: now the world needs a new international climate agreement that incorporates the ambitious emissions cuts Europe has set itself for 2020 and beyond. For this reason the additional measures that EU member states plan need to be implemented, and the Commission's climate change and energy package needs to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, without delay. "
Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 countries which were EU member states when the Protocol was agreed (the EU-15) are committed to reducing their collective greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012 to 8% below levels in a chosen base year (1990 in most cases). This collective commitment has been translated into differentiated national emission targets for each EU-15 member state which are binding under EU law.
There is no collective target for EU-27 emissions. Ten of the twelve member states which joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 have individual commitments under the Protocol to reduce their emissions to 6% or 8% below base year levels by 2008-2012. Only Cyprus and Malta have no emission target.
Projections for EU-15 and EU-27
As announced in June (see IP/08/965), EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 - the latest year for which full data are available – were 2.7% lower than base year levels. This contrasted with economic growth of around 40% over the same period. For the EU-27 as a whole, emissions fell by 10.8% between the base year and 2006.
The Commission's progress report, based on the latest projections by member states, shows that existing policies and measures – those already implemented – are expected to reduce EU-15 emissions to 3.6% below base year levels by 2010, the middle year of the 2008-2012 period.
Plans by 10 of the EU-15 member states to buy credits from emission-saving projects carried out in third countries under Kyoto’s three market-based mechanisms – international emissions trading, the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation instrument - would bring a further reduction of 3%, taking the cut to 6.6%.
Afforestation and reforestation activities, which create biological 'sinks' that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, would contribute an additional cut of 1.4% taking the overall reduction to 8% and thus delivering on the EU's Kyoto commitment.
Additional policies and measures currently under discussion in 10 member states would, if fully implemented, bring further cuts of up to 3.3%, giving a broad safety margin for achieving the 8% reduction target.
Furthermore, member states have not fully factored into their projections the limits on emission allowances fixed for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU Emissions Trading System. It is estimated that for the EU-15 this cap will deliver a 3.3% emissions reduction below base year levels.
The progress report is available at:
DG Environment climate change homepage:
European Environment Agency press release:
Projected emissions in 2010 compared with base year
 Progress towards achieving the Kyoto objectives. Communication from the Commission. COM(2008) 651
 The projections have been compiled by the European Environment Agency.