A progress report released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) foresees a 13% drop in greenhouse gas emissions below levels in a chosen base year, most often 1990. This would go beyond the collective 8% target of the 15 countries that were EU members at the time of the Kyoto Protocol signature in 1997.
In addition, ten of the twelve member states that joined the Union since the Protocol came into being have since signed up to individual commitments, except for Malta and Cyprus. The report expects that all EU countries except for Austria will meet their individual targets.
The EEA estimates that emissions from the 15 'old' member states fell to 6.2% below Kyoto base-year levels last year. For the entire 27-member bloc, the cuts would amount to 13.6%. But these figures are boosted by diminished industrial activity due to the financial crisis (EurActiv 01/09/09).
Nevertheless, the EU-15 countries will fall short of the Kyoto targets without new policies and offset credits. The EEA estimates that existing policies and measures for the 2008-2012 commitment period will only account for 6.9% of the total reduction.
By 2010, the EU policies that will deliver the largest savings are expected to come from the EU's emissions trading scheme (EU ETS; see EurActiv LinksDossier) and the Renewable Energy Directive, according to the report.
In addition, 10 of the EU-15 countries are planning to offset some of their emissions by buying credits through the Kyoto Protocol's flexible mechanisms, it said. Further reductions will be achieved from planned afforestation schemes and by preventing deforestation.
The Commission argues that the strong projections will give the EU an upper hand in UN negotiations on the post-Kyoto treaty, during which developing countries are becoming increasingly impatient with the lack of clear commitments from rich countries (EurActiv 04/11/09)
"With the EU climate and energy package adopted earlier this year, we have already put in place the key measures to reduce our emissions much further to at least 20% below 1990 levels by 2020. No other region of the world has yet done this," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. The EU has pledged to upgrade this target to 30% if others make comparable commitments.
However, countries like the US, Canada, Australia and Japan are still far from meeting even their Kyoto targets as they negotiate a new climate deal.
Leaders urged to turn up in Copenhagen
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said yesterday that he will attend global climate talks in Copenhagen in December and urged world leaders to do the same.
"I will be going to Copenhagen," Barroso told reporters. "There is a clear role for leadership at the highest level if we are to arrive at an agreement in Copenhagen. I very much hope that all leaders are able to come."
The two-week meeting aims to find a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations' main anti-climate change tool which expires in 2012. Preparatory talks have become deadlocked, largely because the United States remains vague on emissions cuts and financial contributions for poor countries hit by climate change.
US President Barack Obama has said he will attend Copenhagen if doing so would provide the necessary impetus to clinch a deal.