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News : European Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2007 - 13:17:15

Climate change: EU on track towards Kyoto target - Ireland to meet target via purchase of carbon credits
By Finfacts Team
Nov 27, 2007, 17:28

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The EU is moving closer to achieving its Kyoto Protocol targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases but additional initiatives need to be adopted and implemented swiftly to ensure success.

This is the conclusion of the Commission's annual report on progress towards meeting the Kyoto objectives. The latest projections from Member States indicate that measures already taken, together with the purchase of emission credits from third countries and forestry activities that absorb carbon from the atmosphere, will cut EU-15 emissions in 2010 to 7.4% below levels in the chosen base year (1990 in most cases) - just short of the 8% reduction target for 2012. Additional policies and measures under discussion at EU and national levels will allow the target to be reached and even take the reduction to 11.4% if implemented promptly and fully.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The latest projections show that the Kyoto target will be reached once the Member States have adopted and implemented the additional actions now under discussion. I therefore urge them to do this swiftly. The Commission has already made a significant contribution to reaching the Kyoto target through its decisions on national allocations under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) for 2008-2012. This also lays a solid foundation for achieving our more ambitious emission targets for 2020, for which we will bring forward a number of proposals early next year."

Kyoto commitments

Under Kyoto the EU-15 Member States are committed to reducing their collective greenhouse gas emissions in 2008-2012 to 8% below base year levels. There is no collective target for EU-25 or EU-27 emissions. Most EU-12 Member States have individual commitments to reduce emissions to 6% or 8% below base year levels over the same period. Cyprus and Malta have no target.

Historical emissions and projections to 2010

As announced in June (see IP/07/835), EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2005 - the latest year for which full data are available – were 2% lower than base year levels. This contrasted with economic growth of more than 35% over the same period. For the EU-25 the emissions reduction to 2005 was 11% from base year levels.

The latest projections by Member States show that existing policies and measures – those already implemented – are expected to reduce EU-15 emissions to 4% below base year levels by 2010, the middle year of the 2008-2012 period.

Plans by 10 of the EU-15 Member States to buy credits from emission-saving projects carried out in third countries under Kyoto’s market-based mechanisms would bring a further reduction of 2.5%, taking the cut to 6.5%.

Planned afforestation and reforestation activities, which create biological 'sinks' that absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, would contribute an additional cut of 0.9%, giving a 7.4% reduction, 0.6% short of the Kyoto target. The target will be more than comfortably achieved on condition that additional policies and measures currently under discussion are promptly put in place and fully implemented. The total emissions reduction could then increase to 11.4%.

Additional policies and measures under discussion at EU level which would contribute to meeting the Kyoto target include the Commission's proposals to include aviation in the EU ETS from 2011 and to require a 10% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from transport fuels between 2011 and 2020. Both are presently under discussion within the Council and the European Parliament under the co-decision procedure.

A significant contribution to meeting the EU-15's 8% reduction target will come from the Commission's decisions to cut back many national allocation plans (NAP) for the second trading period of the EU ETS. Compared with base year levels, these decisions will reduce EU-15 emissions by 3.4% and EU-25 emissions by 2.6% (emissions data for Bulgaria and Romania have not been independently verified due to their recent accession). Part of this reduction may already be reflected in some Member States' projections.

The progress report indicates that all EU-25 Member States can reach their individual Kyoto targets. Those that are currently not on track have recently identified or are in the process of identifying supplementary actions. To be effective and timely in reducing emissions, such measures must be introduced and implemented swiftly however.Emissions targets for 2020

At their spring European Council last March, EU Heads of State and Government pledged that the EU would reduce its emissions in the order of 30% below 1990 levels by 2020 provided that other developed countries agreed to make similar efforts. The EU leaders committed the EU to cutting its emissions by at least 20% over the same period in any case, and endorsed the package of climate and energy measures put forward by the Commission last January as the basis for achieving this goal.

The latest projections show that to reach these targets for 2020, the EU will have to put emissions on a much steeper reduction path after 2012. This underlines the need for the EU and Member States to put in place the policies and measures set out in the climate and energy package as soon as possible. The Commission intends to propose a number of key measures in early 2008.


Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, John Gormley, T.D. said today that the report confirms that Ireland will meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment through a combination of domestic measures to reduce emissions and the use of the Kyoto Protocol flexible mechanisms.

The report is based on figures already published earlier this year in Ireland as well as the amended Climate Change Strategy published in April.

While Ireland's emissions in 2005 were some 25% above 1990 levels, Ireland is projected to reduce this level of emissions to approximately 19% above 1990 over the course of the 2008-2012 Kyoto Protocol period.

With the purchase of carbon credits, Ireland will further reduce its emissions to 12.3% above 1990 levels, thus meeting the country*s Kyoto commitment.

Commenting on the report, Gormley said: "I note the EEA report which is based on the NCCS drawn up before this Government took office.

As you know, the Programme for Government commits Ireland to making further reductions - an annual average 3% reduction in greenhouse gases.

This will mean that Ireland aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions well below the 19 per cent figure in previous reports. This presents an enormous challenge but one the Green Party in Government is determined to meet."

NOW Ireland, the group representing the interests of Ireland’s leading offshore wind operators have called on policy makers to heed the lessons of failure to meet our Kyoto targets and put a framework in place for reaching our renewable energy targets from this point on. The statement comes in the light of a report by the EU indicating that Ireland would fail to achieve its Kyoto target by almost 100%.

Ireland faces even stricter targets in the coming years as a tougher regime comes into power from 2012 onwards. The cost of failure to achieve these targets is a continuing dependence on the purchase of carbon credits as a means of meeting our obligations. The Government has already made allowance for the purchase of over €260 million worth of Carbon credits in the 2007 budget.

NOW Ireland is the acrynom for the National Offshore Wind Association of Ireland which has as its slogan "Making renewables Ireland’s primary power source". The founding members of NOW Ireland are Airtricity, Oriel Windfarm Limited, Eco Wind Power Limited, Fuinneamh Sceirde Teo and Saorgas Energy Limited. Each of these companies has developed plans for offshore fields in Irish waters and made substantial investment in bringing those plans forward. Between them, these companies have the potential to deliver in excess of 2000MW of power from existing lease areas off Irelands coastline. This would represent an investment in excess of €4bn

Commenting on the report, Torben Andersen of NOW Ireland said, "today’s figures indicate the scale of the challenge that is ahead of us. For every year that we are in breach of our obligations, there will be a cost to the Irish taxpayer through penalties or forced purchase of credits. Without a strategy and a framework laying out how emissions reductions will be achieved, we will continue to fall short of our targets."

"Taking the example of the Governments renewables targets, 15% in 2010 and 33% in 2020, there is no clear vision in place as to how we will make that jump. NOW Ireland believes we need to plan now to achieve that growth. Investment in critical infrastructure will only happen when there is some level of certainty in relation to government policy. At present our members have the potential to deliver over 2000MW of renewable energy from offshore wind. In the absence of a government strategy on offshore wind, that deployment is considerably less likely to happen."


UN Human Development Report 2007/2008 calls for Developed Countries to shoulder biggest burden on climate change measures

Finfacts Climate Change Reports - access on right-hand column of home page.

Projected emissions in 2010 compared with base year



With existing policies and measures
Use of Kyoto mech

anisms (Govt.)

Use of carbon sinks
Additional policies and measures
With all measures, Kyoto mechanisms and carbon sinks

- Base Year (BY) emissions
Kyoto targets
Projections for 2010
Effect in 2010
Effect in 2010
Effect in 2010
ections for 2010
Gap bet
ween proj
ections and target

% of BY
% of BY
% of BY
% of BY
% of BY
% of BY
% of BY






Czech Republic

































United Kingdom*


*EU 15 countries


1) Under the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 Member States (marked with *) that made up the EU until its enlargement to 27 Member States have to reduce their collective greenhouse gas emissions by 8% below 1990 levels during 2008-2012. This target is shared among the 15 Member States under a legally binding agreement (Council Decision 2002/358/EC of 25 April 2002). Most of the 12 new Member States have individual targets under the Kyoto Protocol. The exceptions are Cyprus and Malta, which have no targets.

2) Existing policies and measures are those for which one or more of the following applies: (a) national legislation is in force; (b) one or more voluntary agreements have been established; (c) financial resources have been allocated; (d) human resources have been mobilised; (e) an official government decision has been made and there is a clear commitment to proceed with implementation. Additional (planned) policies and measures are options under discussion with a realistic chance of being adopted and implemented in future.

3) For Member States not providing emission scenarios based on additional policies and measures, the overall projections are based on existing measures.

© Copyright 2007 by Finfacts.com

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