EU can meet and go beyond its Kyoto targets

According to the European Environment Agency, the fifteen first members of the EU “can meet, and may even over-shoot, (their) 2012 Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 8 % below 1990 levels”.

This is an excellent news as according to the report, the cut of emissions could reach 11.4 percent.

The EU wants to have a role model in the Bali negotiations that will begin this week. With such results, it is a credible force that can lead climate change mitigation.

As the press release states :

‘On New Year’s Day 2008 the serious business of Kyoto begins for real. All available measures should now be implemented. Significant emission reductions will take place through the emissions trading scheme, the EU’s ‘cap and trade’ programme for carbon.

As the scheme matures and expands we will see it establishing itself as a blueprint for a global carbon market — an important part of any post-Kyoto agreement,’ said Professor Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the EEA.

Within the shared Kyoto target, each EU-15 Member State has a differentiated emissions target, which can be achieved by a variety of means. The 12 new EU Member States are not part of the joint EU-15 target but all, except Cyprus and Malta, have individual targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

Looking ahead — the Road to Kyoto: Based on Member State projections, the report says that existing domestic policies and measures will reduce EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions by a net effect of 4.0 % below base-year levels.

When additional domestic policies and measures (i.e. those planned but not yet implemented) are taken into account, the EU-15 could reduce emissions by an additional 3.9 %.

The projected use of Kyoto mechanisms by ten of the EU-15 will reduce emissions by a further 2.5 %. These governments have set aside EUR 2.9 billion to pay for this. The use of carbon sinks, such as planting forests to remove CO2, will reduce emissions by an additional 0.9 %.

As a result, the EU could even achieve an 11.4 % reduction, the report says. All new Member States with a target expect to meet their target.

Key instrument: The EU emissions trading scheme will bring significant emission reductions between 2008 and 2012, according to the report.

It is expected to contribute a reduction of at least 3.4 %, part of which is already reflected in some Member States projections. This would represent a further reduction of at least 1.3 % to the total of 11.4 % from base-year emissions in the EU-15.

All this are excellent news, but to my humble opinion, three solutions could play an even larger role.

Energy efficiency is the single most effective way to cut our greenhouse gases emissions and can be implemented in a myriad of different ways in our daily lives.

Furthermore, thermal renewable energies could also help us in decreasing our dependence on oil and thus decrease our greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and this would prevent us from suffering too much from the incoming Peak Oil.

Finally, replacing some coal-fired plants (pictured right) by nuclear ones would be a sound move toward a cleaner air and lower GHG emissions.

I know that some country members (namely Germany, Austria and Greece) are reluctant to do so, but the energy from the atoms emits 50 times less CO2 than coal-fired plants.

The European Union committed itself in January to decrease by up to 30 percent its greenhouse gases emissions by 2020. This might enable us to cut our total emissions by 80 percent by 2050 as the experts from the IPCC recommend.

By having a look at what was launched within the Grenelle de l’Environnement in France in October, I am sure that we could go even further. If we over-shoot the 2012 targets, why couldn’t we do the same for the 2020 ones ?

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