Many European Countries Short of Climate Targets

BRUSSELS, Belgium, December 10, 2002 (ENS) - More than half of European Union member states are not on track to meet agreed greenhouse gas limitation targets. They "have to do more," EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said today as she issued the Commssion's latest annual report on EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Like a report issued by the European Environment Agency last week, it concludes that with present policies the 15 countries of the European Union will emit 4.7 percent less greenhouse gases in 2010 than 1990 compared with its target reduction of eight percent.


EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström of Sweden (Photo courtesy International Flight Catering Association)
The reduction can be boosted to over 12 percent if further efforts are made, says to the European Commission. The EU executive branch says many of these efforts would be achieved through EU coordinated policies rather than through national initiatives.

The report summarizes progress on a host of Commission proposals already made or pending, ranging from the flagship greenhouse gas emissions trading directive just approved by ministers to new initiatives on more energy efficient public procurement.

In the future, look for a forthcoming proposal for improved infrastructure use and charging, and a draft directive due next year to control emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases).

The three fluorinated gases governed by the Kyoto Protocol - hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride - may be present as a small proportion of the atmosphere, but they have a potent effect on the warming of the global climate. Fluorinated gas emissions will increase by 60 to 70 percent compared to 1995, the Commission projects.

According to the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the EU and its Member States are committed to reducing emissions of a basket of six greenhouse gases by eight percent below the 1990 level over the period 2008 to 2012.

The central and east European (CEE) countries are committed to reductions of zero to eight percent. In June 1998, a system of "burden sharing" or "target sharing" was agreed by EU Member States.


Motorway, England (Photo courtesy Freefoto)
In a second report released by Wallstrom today, car makers were warned over the pace of their industry's CO2 cuts. The European Commission reminded them that it could draft EU legislation to force down new cars' average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions if they fail to reduce levels voluntarily.

The warning is contained in the latest annual report on a 1998 voluntary agreement between the EU and the industry. Introducing the report, Wallström stressed the need for CO2 emissions to continue to fall after the agreement target dates. Discussions with industry are to start next year.

Under the deal, European, Japanese and Korean car makers' associations Acea, Jama and Kama committed to cut average CO2 emissions from new cars from 186 grams per kilometer (g/km) in 1995 to 140 g/km in 2008/9.

The Commission's latest monitoring report, for 2001, shows that none of the associations is on track.

Europe's ACEA is closest, having achieved average 1.9 percent annual reductions compared with the required average of two percent. ACEA is the professional body representing the interests and skills of 13 European car, truck and bus manufacturers at European level and throughout the world.

cars The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association has achieved an average of 1.5 percent annual emissions reductions.

The average of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) is only 0.9 percent. As a result, the Commission says, "there is a real risk that KAMA will not meet its 2004 intermediate target range. This could put the whole approach in danger."

To amplify the message, a footnote recalls EU governments' direction that further proposals, including legislation, should be immediately put forward if it becomes clear that all or any of the auto makers' associations will not honor their commitments.

Despite the Commission's warning, average new car emissions have fallen 10 percent since 1995.

The EU executive notes that all parties expect the pace of CO2 reductions to increase in future years.

Progress on the voluntary agreement is being assessed in the context of the European Union's broader goal of achieving average CO2 emissions from new cars of 120 g/km by 2005 or by 2010 at the latest. The first will not be met, but the second can be reached, the Commission concludes.

The Community Strategy to Reduce CO2 Emissions from Cars: Third annual report on the effectiveness of the strategy is found here.


{Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London. Email:}