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EU will miss Kyoto goals without more effort - report

Date: 09-Dec-02
Country: BELGIUM
Author: Robin Pomeroy

But the EU could surpass the target it agreed under the United Nations Kyoto global warming pact if it pushes ahead with new policies such as a proposed emissions trading scheme, it said.

The EEA, which collects and analyses environmental data predicted the 15-member EU's emissions would drop by 4.7 percent of 1990 levels by 2010. Under Kyoto, the EU has to achieve an eight percent cut.

The Kyoto Protocol, agreed by the United Nations in 1997, aims to reduce the developed world's output of greenhouse gases - which trap heat in the atmosphere with potentially disastrous long-term environmental consequences - by 5.2 percent.

Since the United States, which emits around one third of the emissions covered by Kyoto, pulled out of the pact last year, the EU has positioned itself as saviour of the treaty.

All other major countries have now ratified and the pact can come into force once Russia does so.

TALKS ON MONDAY

According to the EEA study, the EU could achieve a 12.4 percent cut if it implements all the new policies currently under discussion.

EU environment ministers will discuss a major new climate policy on Monday which could impose greenhouse gas limits on most industries in the 15-country bloc from 2005.

The so-called emissions trading directive would cap the amount of carbon dioxide any factory and power plant can emit and allow them to buy extra pollution rights from firms that fall short of their emissions limit.

But even with such a policy, the EEA predicts a handful of EU states will have trouble reaching their individual targets.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain will overshoot their targets by at least 10 percentage points, it said.

The best performers will be Germany, which has shut down a lot of polluting plants in the former communist east since the fall of the Berlin wall, and Britain, which has converted many coal-burning power stations to less polluting gas.

Both countries will be at least 10 percentage points beyond their Kyoto targets by 2010, the EEA predicts.

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