The 15 European Union countries that signed up to the 1997 Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gases are collectively on track to meet their commitment, though individual performances vary, the European Environmental Agency said Oct. 16. "The EU-15 should meet its collective target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 8% for the period 2008-2012," compared with 1990, a statement from the Copenhagen-based agency said.

Part of this decrease will come from emission reduction projects that EU countries will finance in other countries.

Overall, projections from member states for the Kyoto period indicate that the 15 states could cut emissions by more than 11% compared with 1990. This could be achieved by a combination of domestic policies and measures (in force and planned), carbon sink activities and credits for emission reductions outside the EU.

"Emission performance remains mixed in the EU-15. A few member states are still off their Kyoto track," said Jacqueline McGlade, the agency's executive director. "However, if the expected outstanding performance of other member states is taken into account, the EU-15 as a whole should meet its Kyoto commitment."

Within the overall EU-15 Kyoto target of eight percent there are differentiated emission targets for each member state. In 2006, four EU-15 countries (France, Greece, Sweden and Britain) had already reached a level below their Kyoto target.

Eight further EU-15 member states (Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Portugal) project that they will achieve their targets, but projections from three member states (Denmark, Italy and Spain) indicate that they will not meet their emission reduction goals. Of the eight percent target, 2.7% has already been achieved and should rise to a 3.6% cut through existing policies and measures by 2010. Buying carbon credits will account for another 3% and reforestation for carbon sink purposes another 1.4%.

The report also gives a long-term estimate of the emissions situation in Europe. Although emissions are projected to continue decreasing until 2020 in all 27 members of the EU, the 20% reduction target compared with 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, the agency said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008