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Before somebody points it out in the comments, yes, I do realize that being "on target" doesn't necessarily mean that these countries will actually meet the emission caps set under the Kyoto Protocol. However, given all of the backtracking and inertia that have characterized recent climate dealings, it is a sign of progress — however slight. (The 15 EU countries pledged to cut their carbon dioxide emissions by a very modest 8 percent by 2012.)
The three failing countries — or, as the report calls them: "off the Kyoto track" — are Denmark, Italy and Spain. Britain, Germany and Sweden, on the other hand, are likely to turn in an "outstanding performance" — which will help make up for the others' poor showing. The 12 countries that joined the EU after 1997 were not required to help meet the original bloc's Kyoto targets. Will the EU sustain its progress?
The longer-term outlook could dim, however, if the countries do not adopt additional mitigation measures, the report cautions:
Although emissions are projected to continue decreasing until 2020 in the EU-27, the 20 % reduction target compared to 1990, endorsed by European leaders in 2007, will remain out of reach without the implementation of additional measures, such as the EU energy and climate change package proposed by the European Commission in January 2008.
Data show that the 15 EU Member States sharing a common target under the Kyoto Protocol (EU-15) achieved a reduction of their greenhouse gases by 2.7 % between the base year and 2006. The policies and measures in place as of today will not be sufficient for the EU-15 to meet its Kyoto target, as they are expected to push down emissions between 2006 and 2010 to an average level only 3.6 % below the base-year emissions. If the additional measures planned by 10 Member States were fully implemented and on time, a further reduction of 3.3 % could be obtained. The full effect of the EU Emission Trading Scheme is not reflected in all Member States' projections.
Countries opt for a wide range of policies and measures to cut their emissions
Most countries expect to meet future targets by planting more forests — a measure the report estimates would only remove a small fraction of total carbon dioxide between 2008 and 2012 (1.4 percent compared to 1990). Ten countries have said that they will use the Kyoto mechanisms — trading emissions between themselves and obtaining credits from financing emission-cutting projects in developing countries — which could reduce emissions from base-year levels by 3 percent by 2010. The mix of conventional policies — promoting renewable energy and biofuels, improving energy efficiency and reducing car emissions (to name a few) — will also be at play, of course.
How will the credit crisis affect the EU's emission-reducing policies?
There are some concerns that the global credit crisis could put these emission-cutting measures on the backburner as more countries focus on rehabilitating their faltering financial markets. Fortunately, several European leaders, such as President Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Brown of Britain, are urging their fellow heads of state to push on — arguing that now is not the time to let the economy get in the way of resolving the climate crisis. I wish them luck — and hope to see the countries remain on target next year.
Via Associated Press: 15 EU countries on track to meet Kyoto targets
More about the EU and the Kyoto Treaty
EU's Bold Energy Plan Shames Kyoto Holdouts
Austria Not Pulling its Weight in Meeting Kyoto Objectives
Europe On Course To Beat Kyoto Objectives