Recent projections show the EU is on track to meet Kyoto emission targets

According to the Commission's annual progress report on emissions, the EU and most member states are on track to deliver on their Kyoto Protocol commitments for reducing or limiting emissions of greenhouse gases. The latest projections from Member States indicate that the EU-15 will achieve its 8% reduction target through a combination of policies and measures already taken, the purchase of emission credits from projects in third countries, and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 countries which were EU member states when the Protocol was agreed (the EU-15) are committed to reducing their collective greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012 to 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.

The Commission's progress report, based on the latest projections by member states, shows that existing policies and measures, those already implemented, are expected to reduce EU-15 emissions to 3.6% below base year levels by 2010, the middle year of the 2008-2012 period.

The last delivered data were EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2006, the latest year for which full data are available, and showed that emissions were 2.7% lower than base year levels. This contrasted with economic growth of around 40% over the same period. For the EU-27 as a whole, emissions fell by 10.8% between the base year and 2006.

Plans by 10 of the EU-15 member states to buy credits from emission-saving projects carried out in third countries under Kyoto’s three market-based mechanisms, the Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation instrument, would bring a further reduction of 3%, taking the cut to 6.6%.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomes these projections as they “show that Europe's coordinated action to reach the Kyoto targets is working. But Kyoto is only the first step: now the world needs a new international climate agreement that incorporates the ambitious emissions cuts Europe has set itself for 2020 and beyond. For this reason the additional measures that EU member states plan need to be implemented, and the Commission's climate change and energy package needs to be approved by the European Parliament and Council, without delay. "

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.

As the formal negotiations for a new UN Climate Agreement are on their way, the Commission launched in August a public consultation on the European Union's approach to a global climate change agreement to assess EU stakeholder position in view of the new agreement which has to be reached in UNFCCC 2009 meeting in Copenhagen.

Furthermore, member states have not fully factored into their projections the limits on emission allowances fixed for the 2008-2012 trading period of the EU Emissions Trading System. It is estimated that for the EU-15 this cap will deliver a 3.3% emissions reduction below base year levels.