Memorandum submitted by the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
HYDROCARBON FUEL USAGE: KYOTO PROTOCOL OBLIGATIONS
1. TO WHAT
The Government is fully committed to tackling
climate change. In 1992, under the UN Framework Convention on
Climate Change, the UK and other developed countries agreed to
take on a voluntary target of returning their greenhouse gas emissions
to 1990 levels by the year 2000. At Kyoto in December 1997 a Protocol
to the Convention was agreed. Developed countries agreed to take
on legally binding targets, which will reduce their overall emissions
of a basket of six greenhouse gases to 5.2 per cent below 1990
levels over the period 2008-12.
The Member States of the European Union agreed
jointly to take on a target of reducing their emissions by 8 per
cent over this period. In June 1998, under the UK Presidency,
agreement was reached on sharing out this target between Member
States. Under the terms of this agreement, the UK's legally binding
target is to reduce its emissions of the basket of six greenhouse
gases by 12.5 per cent by 2008-12.
2. WHAT FURTHER
Achieving the legally binding target from Kyoto
is the Government's priority. However, it is prepared to do more,
and has set a separate domestic goal of reducing emissions of
carbon dioxide, the most important greenhouse gas, to 20 per cent
below 1990 levels by 2010.
3. TO WHAT
The Republic of Ireland's legally binding target,
under the EU agreement, is to hold emissions of the basket of
six gases at 13 per cent above 1990 levels, over the period 2008-12.
4. WHAT LEVEL
The Kyoto obligation is legally binding on the
Republic of Ireland. We do not know of any other domestic goal,
but this would be a matter for the Government of the Republic
5. WHAT IS
International guidelines for greenhouse gas
inventories follow the general principle that emissions should
be counted within national territories, but in the case of road
vehicles emissions are for practical purposes to be attributed
to the country in which the fuel is loaded into the vehicle.
Under this mechanism the CO2 emissions from
fuel lawfully procured in the Irish Republic by loading into motor
vehicles and consumed in Northern Ireland is counted in the emissions
inventory of the Irish Republic, and vice versa for fuel purchased
in Northern Ireland (or any other part of the UK) and consumed
in the Irish Republic.
Fuel unlawfully procured in the Irish Republic
and consumed in Northern Ireland would also count in the inventory
of the Irish Republic, provided the point of unlawful procurement
occurred after the point of the bulk sale from the refinery, because
this is the point at which national statistics on fuel consumption
are collected. CO2 emissions from any fuel unlawfully procured
upstream of this point would not appear in the emissions inventory
of either the Irish Republic or the United Kingdom, but checks
on refinery flows carried out both in the Irish Republic and the
UK indicate that it is unlikely that significant amounts of fuel
are unlawfully procured in this way.