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EU welcomes fall in 2007 greenhouse gas emissions for third consecutive year

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas welcomed the news that EU greenhouse gas emissions have fallen for the third consecutive year. The emissions inventory compiled by the European Environment Agency for 2007, the latest year for which complete data is available, shows that EU-15 emissions dropped by 1.6% from 2006 while the economy grew by 2.7 %. The reduction takes EU-15 emissions to 5.0% below their levels in the base year (1990 in most cases). This puts the EU-15 well on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol target of reducing emissions in the 2008-2012 period to an average of 8% below the base year level. EU-27 emissions fell 1.2% over the year to stand 12.5% lower than in the base year.

Commissioner Dimas said: "The recent emission reductions among the EU-15 give us the confidence that we will successfully reach our Kyoto target. With more than half of EU-15 Member States registering notable emission reductions once again in 2007, our main concern now is to ensure that an ambitious global climate agreement for the period after 2012 is achieved at the Copenhagen conference in December. This will create a framework for worldwide emission reductions in the future."

He added: "Although the 2007 reduction in EU-15 reductions was partly due to favourable weather conditions in some Member States, the downward emissions trend over the last three years indicates that the pro-active climate policies and measures taken nationally and at EU level since Kyoto are now starting to pay off. The climate and energy package adopted last month ensures that even greater reductions will be made in the coming years."

Downward emissions trend despite economic growth

The 1.6% drop in EU-15 emissions between 2006 and 2007 contrasted with an increase in GDP of 2.7% over the period. This means the EU has succeeded in further decoupling emissions from economic growth. Emissions had also fallen in the two previous years, by 0.9% in 2005 and 0.6% in 2006.

The main reasons for the emissions fall in 2007 - totalling 64 million tonnes of CO 2-equivalent – were declines in emissions from households, due to warmer weather, and from manufacturing industries and iron and steel production. By contrast, emissions related to refrigeration and air conditioning rose.

The majority of sectors have recorded emission reductions between the base year and 2007. Emissions from industrial processes were down 14.1%, from energy without transport by 7.4%, from use of solvents and other products 23.7%, from agriculture 11.3% and from waste 38.9%. By contrast, emissions from transport in general rose by 23.7% and from road transport by 24.7%.

EU-27 emissions fell 1.2% in the year. They consequently stood 12.5% below levels in the base year, which for some Member States differs from 1990, and 9.3% below levels in 1990 itself. The reduction against 2006, totalling 59.4 million tonnes of CO 2-equivalent, can be attributed to broadly the same reasons as for the EU-15. Emission increases in the EU-27 were recorded in transport, cement production and public electricity and heat production, as well as refrigeration and air conditioning.

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% or 8% below base year levels, except Cyprus and Malta which have no targets.

The data was compiled by the European Environment Agency and has been submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

by S. C.
01 june 2009, Food & Fun > Nature