The report from the European Environment Agency (EEA), which will be published in November, indicates that the 15 countries could in fact end up cutting their emissions by over 11% by 2012, compared to 1990's Kyoto base level. This estimate is based on the member states' own projected emission reductions for the Kyoto commitment period 2008-2012 as well as for 2020.
However, achieving the target is not a given and will require additional measures, the report finds, estimating that those currently in place will only secure a reduction of 3.6% by 2010. Further action is already being planned in several EU countries, which are notably discussing the use of carbon sinks like forests as well as using carbon credits obtained from Kyoto emission reduction projects abroad to achieve their required levels.
The EU agency also cautions that achieving the target will depend on all member states delivering the full emission reductions foreseen throughout the entire commitment period. Underperformers will have to be covered by other, more efficient countries, it adds.
"A few member states are still off their Kyoto track. However, if the expected outstanding performance of other member states is taken into account, the EU 15 as a whole should meet its Kyoto commitment," said EEA Director Jacqueline McGlade.
The agency also says that the role of the bloc's Emissions Trading Scheme (see EurActiv Links Dossier) has not been fully accounted for in many countries' projections and could bring substantial additional reductions.
The EEA report reveals that France, Greece, Sweden and the United Kingdom have already gone beyond their Kyoto target, while, by contrast, Denmark, Italy and Spain have indicated that they will not reach their emission reduction goals. The other eight countries estimate that they will achieve their 2012 targets.
The report further suggests a major role for the EU in reducing emissions, as it found that common and coordinated European policies and measures were behind the implementation or at least reinforcement of policies and measures reducing greenhouse gas emissions in eight out of ten cases in 22 member states.
Nevertheless, the EEA warns that the EU's follow-up target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2020 will remain unattainable unless the additional measures contained in the energy and climate change package are implemented, including major energy-efficiency improvements and heavy investment in the development of renewables. While the bloc's ambitious climate and energy goals were confirmed by EU leaders at the Brussels summit on 16 October, there are concerns that the package could be significantly watered down amid recession fears triggered by the ongoing financial crisis (EurActiv 16/10/08).