EU greenhouse gas emissions fall for fifth year running

Paul Boughton
The European Environment Agency today publishes the latest EU inventory of greenhouse gas emissions showing that emissions fell again significantly in 2008, the first year of the Kyoto Protocol's first commitment period.

European Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard welcomed the news. The fall marks the fifth consecutive annual decrease.

The emissions inventory for 2008, the latest year for which complete data is available, shows that EU-15 emissions dropped by 1.9 per cent from 2007 while the economy grew by 0.6 per cent .

The reduction takes EU-15 emissions to 6.9 per cent below their levels in the base year (1990 in most cases). This brings the EU-15 closer to reaching its Kyoto Protocol target of reducing emissions in the 2008-2012 commitment period to an average of 8 per cent below the base year level. EU-27 emissions fell 2 per cent over the year to 11.3 per cent below the 1990 level.

Commissioner Hedegaard said: "With negotiations on a global climate agreement for the post-2012 era continuing, showing that Europe is able to deliver on our commitments under Kyoto is of paramount importance. The significant emission decreases we have achieved over the past five years clearly illustrate the value of binding targets. However, 2008 was only the first year of the Kyoto commitment period and all Member States need to continue their efforts to ensure they meet their targets for 2008-2012."

She added: "The 2008 reductions were not only due to the financial crisis but are also the result of the many ambitious policies that the EU and its Member States have implemented over the years whose effects are becoming increasingly apparent. Our commitment to reduce EU-wide emissions by at least 20 per cent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, and by 80-95 per cent by 2050, means that the transition to the low-carbon economy must and will continue.”

With a 1.9 per cent drop in EU-15 emissions between 2007 and 2008 and an economy that grew by 0.6 per cent , the EU has shown again that economic growth and low-carbon development can go hand in hand.

EU-27 emissions fell 2 per cent compared to 2007. They consequently stood 11.3 per cent below levels in 1990 and 14.3 per cent below levels in the base year (which for some Member States differs from 1990).

There is no EU-27 emissions target under the Kyoto Protocol since the EU-12 were not Member States at the time. However, all of the EU-12 have individual Kyoto commitments to cut emissions to 6 per cent or 8 per cent below base year levels, except Cyprus and Malta which have no targets.

Verified emissions from all installations in the EU ETS in 2008 totalled 2.12 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalent, representing about 43 per cent of total EU emissions. 2008 ETS emissions were 3.06 per cent lower than the 2007 level. (ETS emissions fell a further 11.6 per cent in 2009.
The data was compiled by the European Environment Agency and has been submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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