Some might say that this year the cuts in greenhouse gases emissions are due to the recession. It might be the case, but here the news nonetheless: the European Union decreased its emissions for the fourth year in a row in 2008.
But there is more to it : the European Union and its 27 members (representing 500 million people) is within reach of its Kyoto Protocol goals, ie cutting emissions by an average of ten percent compared to 1990 levels.
And since the European Cap and Trade system is only beginning to work and that renewables and nuclear are due to increase their importance, I believe it is only the beginning.
As the AFP puts it :
Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union fell for the fourth year running in 2008, thanks to the economic recession, the European Environment Agency (EAA) said Monday.
The official EEA estimates showed a 1.5 percent drop in emissions from the 27-nation European Union as a whole and a 1.3 percent drop from its 15 older and richer members.
“The vast majority of the decline in emissions in 2008 was due to lower CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the energy, industry and transport sectors,” the environment agency said in a statement.
The reductions “reflect the effects of the global economic recession which began in 2008, which resulted in reduced industrial output and reduced energy consumption by industry, and correspondingly reduced freight transport,” it added.
Nonetheless the European Commission welcomed the news as showing “further EU progress towards Kyoto targets,” of reducing emissions in the 2008-2012 by eight percent from 1990 levels.
So far European Union nations have cut emissions by more than 10 percent altogether, according to the EAA estimates.
“These provisional figures are a further confirmation that the EU is well on track to reach its Kyoto target, even if one should recognise that part of the reduction in emissions is due to the economic slowdown.” said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas.
“This trend needs to be further consolidated in the coming years,” he added.
The EU had already shown it was capable of decoupling its emissions from economic growth, he said.
Dimas called the figures a timely message to the rest of the world in the run up to the international climate conference in Copenhagen December.