The European Union has apparently succeeded in cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 18% since 1990, new reports from the European Commission and European Environment Agency show. The EU has also over-achieved its reduction commitment under the first period of the Kyoto Protocol by a wide margin.
Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said: "The EU is clearly delivering on its Kyoto commitments. The EU has reduced its emissions significantly since 1990 while expanding its economy. This further demonstrates that climate policy can be implemented in a way that fosters jobs and growth. Our 20% reduction target for 2020 is also within reach thanks to our climate and energy legislation. And through additional policies, we're actually on track to overachieve our target."
On track towards 2020 target
EU emissions continue to follow the downward trend seen since 2004. While EU GDP grew by 45% between 1990 and 2011, total emissions from the 28 member states, including emissions from international aviation, were 16.9% below 1990 levels in 2011 and an estimated 18% below 1990 in 2012.
The EU's unilateral commitment to cut emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 includes emissions from international aviation. With the help of the 2009 'climate and energy package' of legislation, the Union is well on track to achieve its 2020 target. Member states' latest projections show that total emissions in 2020, including international aviation, will be 21% below the 1990 level.
First Kyoto commitment over-achieved
The Commission's annual progress report on EU greenhouse gas emissions shows that the 15 EU member states at the time the Kyoto Protocol was ratified have overachieved their joint reduction commitment for the first period of the Protocol, which ran from 2008 to 2012.
While their commitment called for an annual 8% reduction below base year levels (1990 in most cases), averaged over the period, the actual cut achieved through domestic reduction measures alone is expected to be 12.2%.
The 11 other member states that have individual emission reduction commitments under Kyoto's first period are also expected to meet their targets. For the second Kyoto period, which runs from 2013 to 2020, the EU has committed to achieve an average 20% reduction below base year levels annually over the period. The EU intends to fulfil its commitment jointly with Iceland.