Global Economics

EU Sees Drop in Carbon Emissions


Thanks to tightened rules and warmer weather, European nations have cut greenhouse gas production. But some states lag—and the targets are tough

Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU fell by 1.2 percent – or the equivalent of 59 million tonnes of CO2 – between 2006 and 2007, but a number of member states are still lagging behind the targets set by the UN's Kyoto Protocol on fighting climate change, the EU environment agency said on Friday (29 May).

Seventeen EU Member States reduced their emissions in 2007, with only Spain and Greece among the older member states not doing so, according to the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA).

But among the member states having joined the EU since 2004, only Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Poland reduced their emissions in 2007 compared to 2006.

In the 15 old member states, which alone produce around 80 percent of the bloc's gases, emissions fell by 1.6 percent, or a total cut of five percent since 1990.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, these countries should achieve an average eight percent reduction from the 1990 levels in the 2008 – 2012 period.

"The recent emission reductions among the EU-15 give us the confidence that we will successfully reach our Kyoto target," EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

But the study also showed that some member states – such as Spain and Italy – are still lagging far behind their emission targets for 2012.

If member states fail to comply with the set targets, they will have to face sanctions both under the Kyoto protocol and the EU's own rules, Mr Dimas warned.

"If they don't comply, they have to pay," he said at a press conference in Brussels.

According to the EEA, the reduction was mainly due to a warmer weather in 2007 – which led to lower emissions from households, as well as to a decreased level of emissions from manufacturing industries, iron and steel production.

But at the same time, it said emissions from air conditioning, refrigeration and transport increased, with those of road transport alone rising by 24.7 percent.

The presentation of the figures came as more than 190 nations will in December this year meet in Copenhagen to try to work out a new climate treaty to replace Kyoto and fight climate change more efficiently.

For its part, the EU in March 2007 set itself the target to cut its own emissions by 20 percent below its 1990 levels by 2020.

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