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Brussels, 12 October 2010

Climate change: European Union making deeper emission cuts than promised

The European Union is ahead of schedule in its promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012. The Commission's annual report shows that the 25 member states with reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol will meet their commitments

Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "The European Union not only signed the Kyoto Protocol, we not only pledged under Kyoto. The facts show that the world can count on the European Union; what we pledge we also deliver. In this case we are actually heading to overachieving".

Kyoto commitments

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 EU Member States at the time the Protocol was agreed committed to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012 by an average of 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.

Emissions to date

As announced in June 2010 (see IP/10/659), EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2008 - the latest year for which full data are available – were 6.9% lower than base year levels even though the EU-15 economy grew around 45% over the same period. For the EU-27 as a whole, emissions fell by 14.3% between the base year and 2008.

In a separate report, he European Environment Agency provisionally estimates that in 2009 emissions fell sharply due to the economic situation. In 2009 EU-15 emissions were estimated to be 12.9% below their base year levels while EU-27 emissions were estimated at 17.3% below 1990.

Projections for EU-15 and EU-27

For the EU-15, the Commission's progress report1 shows that total GHG emissions will average around 14.2% below base year levels in the 2008-2012 commitment period if Member States go ahead with plans to buy international emission credits and with planned afforestation and reforestation activities.

Existing policies and measures – ie those already implemented – are expected to deliver emission reductions of 10.4% below base year levels. On top of this, plans by 10 of the EU-15 Member States to buy emission credits under Kyoto’s market-based mechanisms would bring a further cut of 2.7%, taking the overall reduction to around 13.2%2. Planned afforestation and reforestation activities, which create biological 'sinks' that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, would contribute an additional reduction of 1.0%.

For the EU-27, all 10 of the EU-12 Member States that have a Kyoto target are likely to meet or over-achieve their Kyoto commitments of a 6 or 8% reduction against base year levels.

The projections presented in the report show the cumulative effect of economic recession on the decrease in GHG emissions.

Differences from EEA report

The Commission's report differs slightly in its approach from the report published today by the European Environment Agency assessing the EU's progress towards the Kyoto commitments. While the Commission report takes into account actual emissions and projections to the end of the 2008-2012 commitment period, the analysis at Member State level provided by the EEA is based on actual emissions in 2008 only. The two reports are to be read in the light of those different assumptions in order to understand the differences in the assessment presented in each of them.

Further information:

The Commission's progress report is available at:

DG Environment climate change homepage:

European Environment Agency press release:

Projected EU-27 emissions for non-ETS sectors expressed as annual average 2008-2012

Figures and graphics available in PDF and WORD PROCESSED

1 :

Progress towards achieving the Kyoto objectives. Report from the Commission. COM(2010) 569

2 :

Rounded figure

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