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EU Struggling to Meet Kyoto Targets; Transportation a Leading Cause

The EU-15 are not tracking to meet their Kyoto obligations. Click to enlarge.

Absent additional measures, the EU 15—the 15 longest-standing members of the European Union—will fail to meet their target reduction in greenhouse gases of 8% from the 1990 level required under Kyoto, according to an official report released today by the European Environment Agency.

According to the report, The European Environment: State and Outlooks 2005, given current trends and measures, the 15 will deliver a reduction in GHG emissions of 1.6% below the 1990 base year levels—a shortfall of 6.4%. The transportation sector, with an increase in greenhouse gas emissions of 24% from 1990 through 2003, is one of the leading impediments to achieving the target.

Aggressive implementation of additional measures could push that down to a 6.8% reduction.

The use of Kyoto mechanisms by various member states would reduce emissions by a further 2.5%, leading to total reductions of 9.3%, sufficient to reach the EU-15 target. This would, however, rely on over-delivery by some countries. All EU-10 member states (the new members) project that existing domestic measures will be sufficient to meet their Kyoto targets in 2010, in one by using carbon sinks.

Total EU-15 GHG emissions in 2003 were 1.7% below base-year levels. Increases in carbon dioxide emissions were offset by reductions in nitrous oxide, methane and fluorinated gas emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from road transport increased whereas emissions from manufacturing industry decreased.

Total EU-15 GHG emissions (including Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms) in 2003 were 1.9 index points above the hypothetical linear EU target path. Many EU-15 Member States were not on track to meet their burden-sharing targets. Total GHG emissions in the EU 10 decreased considerably (by 32.2%) between the aggregate base year and 2003, due mainly to the economic restructuring transition process towards market economies.

Regarding other EEA countries, Iceland and the EU candidate countries Bulgaria and Romania are on track to achieving their Kyoto targets while Norway and Liechtenstein will, with existing domestic policies and measures, fall short of theirs.

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Relative gaps between GHG projections and 2010 targets, based on existing and additional domestic policies and measures, and changes by the use of Kyoto mechanisms. Change in EU-15 emissions of greenhouse gases by sector and gas 1990-2003.

Improvements in industrial efficiency and reductions in methane emissions from waste have provided the most substantive gains. But longer car journeys have more than offset gains in engine performance, and ship and airline journeys are also increasing fast.

The EU-15 member states are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

The EU-10 member states are: Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The report provides an overview of Europe’s environment and points to challenges of which greenhouse gas emissions is just one. Other areas of concern include biodiversity, climate change, marine ecosystems, land and water resources, energy use, air pollution and health. For the first time, the report has a country by country analysis with performance indicators and comparisons for all of the participants: the EU-25 plus Bulgaria, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Romania, Turkey and including Switzerland.




If hitting the target for the aggregate EU-15 is important, it seems to me like some extra emphasis on Germany, France, Italy, and Spain need to get in the works. Germany is pretty much fine, but an improvement in Germany would really help swing the EU. France could clearly improve and is quite populous, and less populous but in worse shape are Italy and Spain. National policy in these four countries likely has the largest room for improvement.


Yeah, but France already have really low CO2 emissions compared to Germany, due to the French nuclear energy.

Your average Frenchman emits 6,2 metric tonnes of CO2 per year while your average German emits 9,8 tonnes.

Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland and the UK have large room for improvement. They could close all their coal plants, gas plants and oil plants (Italy) and replace them with nuclear power plants à la France.

That would lower emissions more than 10 Kyoto treaties ever could.

Ivan Kirigin

Kyoto is a waste of time. It solves nothing, and is currently failing.

EU nations did _worse_ than the US wrt greenhouse gases. Read this.

More research would be a far better use of the money. Instead of spending billions on tax breaks to consumers, subsidies to corporations, and compliance with failing regulation, we should be spending every cent on the next wave of technologies: better batteries, efficient fusion, and efficient solar.

tom deplume

Some my reading of the suggested link did not say that the US is lowering its GHG emissions faster than the EU.

Jesse Jenkins

Ivan, that article is bull. It says that "The EU's emissions rose 3.6% between 2001 and 2004 (those in the US fell)." The above data contradicts that with all EU 10 countries on track to meet their reduction targets and even the EU 15 seeing a reduction (over 1990 levels even not 2000 levels), although not as great as the target unless they implement new measures. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems hard to believe that the EU would have seen a rise in emissions from 2000 to 2004 when they are on track to reduce emissions below 1990 levels which are even lower than 2000 levels.

Heiko Gerhauser


the reason European emissions fell in the early 1990's was the replacement of coal by gas in the UK, and the retirement of old, terribly inefficient lignite fired power plants in Eastern Germany. Absent these one time factors European emissions have been on a very modestly rising path, in particular, because as the article says of increasing transportation energy demand.

US energy demand is down due to recently high energy prices shutting down some industry, particularly fertiliser etc.., which got moved to places with low nat gas prices, ie largely the Mid East.

Heiko Gerhauser

Oh, and overall I don't think any country is doing much, meaning anything that actually really hurts.

US emissions are high to quite some degree, because people there like driving large cars a lot, and will scream, once any measure is enacted that really prevents them doing this. In addition, the weather is not as mild as in Europe and thanks to different planning regs and more land availability houses are larger too.

The rise in emissions since 1990 also has a lot to do with the fact that US population is going up much more steeply than is the case for Europe, where birth rates are rock bottom.

I don't really have an issue with climate policy in Europe and the US, it's not all that dissimilar really, and I think it's largely appropriate, as I don't think the case has been made for implementing measures that actually hurt (think about paying $3000 to off-set your trip round America and you know what I mean - tree planting only goes so far).

There is a lot of noise, though, largely for "political" reasons I think (bashing Europeans for their supposedly slow economic growth, when per capita they are actually growing just as fast as the US, or bashing the US and Bush for supposedly ignoring the environment altogether).

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