European Compliance with Kyoto Protocol Deemed Affordable

BRUSSELS, Belgium, May 9, 2001 (ENS) - The European Union could cut its greenhouse gas emissions in line with Kyoto Protocol commitments at an annual cost of under 0.1 percent of Gross Domestic Product, says a study released by the European Commission. The estimated cost is considerably lower than previous figures and will strengthen the European Union's hand in the global argument over the "affordability" of responding aggressively to climate change.

Based on two years' work, the consultancy study calculates costs of cutting all six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol across the European Union economy. It suggests an annual net cost during the first protocol commitment period 2008 to 2012 of just 3.7 billion euros, equivalent to 0.06 percent of predicted Gross Domestic Product.

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Chipboard factory in Hexham, Northumberland, UK (Photos by Ian Britton courtesy FreeFoto.com)
In the report, Ecofys of the Netherlands, AEA Technology of Britain and the national technical university in Athens, Greece, combine "top-down" and "bottom-up" approaches to identify and cost the total "technical" reduction potential in all economic sectors. Some sectoral reports have already been published by the European Commission.

Almost two-thirds of the overall savings potential could be realized at a profit or at no cost, the study found. Approaching the Kyoto goal on a "least cost" basis would lead to European Union wide costs of 3.7 billion euros - or 20 euros per tonne of carbon equivalent.

That is the cost if the cost of reductions is spread throughout the bloc, but it would almost double, to 7.5 billion euros, if the 15 member states were to act individually.

The Commission previously estimated the same costs at six billion euros and nine billion euros respectively in its green paper on emissions trading last March, though the figures were arrived at using a different methodology.

Another aim of the study was to determine how far different economic sectors should reduce emissions from 1990 levels to ensure the cheapest implementation of Kyoto Protocol targets which average a reduction of seven percent.

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Traffic such as that which clogs this London road spews greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Under this scenario, the biggest contributors would be the fossil fuel extraction sector (46 percent reduction), waste management (28 percent) and industry (26 percent).

Transport emissions would fall by only four percent, reflecting the generally high cost of technical abatement measures.

The study's authors stress that some of the abatement options identified, though cheap, might not be adopted because they are "not politically or otherwise feasible." However, they also point out that "non-technical" abatement measures, such as increasing taxes and charges to reduce energy demand, were not included in their calculations.

The study in its entirety is available online by clicking here.

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