Documents considered by the Committee on 3 November 2010, including the following recommendations for debate: Financial Management - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

10 Implementation of EU obligations under the Kyoto Protocol



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COM(10) 569

Commission Report on progress towards meeting the Kyoto objectives

Legal base
Document originated12 October 2010
Deposited in Parliament15 October 2010
DepartmentEnergy and Climate Change
Basis of considerationEM of 28 October 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilNo date set
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionCleared


10.1 In order to meet the environmental challenges presented by global warming, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) requires industrialised countries to return their emissions of greenhouse gases by the year 2000 to the levels obtaining in 1990. However, in 1997, the Kyoto Protocol went on to set legally binding emission targets for industrialised countries to meet by 2012. The Community of 15 accordingly undertook to reduce its 1990 emission levels by 8% by the period 2008-2012, with reductions being apportioned between the individual Member States under the Burden Sharing Agreement (see Annex I). Of the new Member States, all but Cyprus and Malta have individual reduction targets under the Protocol, equivalent to 8% (except for Hungary and Poland, where the target is 6%).

The current document

10.2 This report provides a description of historical trends in, and projections of, greenhouse gas emissions for the EU-15 and EU-27, based on information provided by Member States, and is the fifth of a series of annual reports required under Decision 280/2004/EC. Historical emissions are shown between 1990 and 2008 (the latest year for which data is now available), whilst projected emissions are provided for 2010 (the midpoint of the first commitment period) on the basis of those measures currently in place and the additional policies and measures being introduced, as well as the effect of the planned use of the Kyoto flexible mechanisms,[56] and the projected use of carbon sinks (Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF)) allowed under the Kyoto Protocol.

10.3 The report notes that emissions in the EU-15 in 2008 decreased by 1.9% compared with 2007, and are now 6.9% below base year emissions, despite an increase in GDP of 45% since 1990, whilst, for the EU-27, emissions were 2% lower than in 2007, and 14.3% lower than the base year. It says that the EU-15 will now meet its Kyoto target, and that, on current projections, reflecting the economic recession, it is very likely that this will be over-achieved, assuming current and planned measures deliver as expected. Also, with the possible exception of Austria and Italy, each of the Member States concerned is on track to meet its individual Kyoto target, whilst nine of the ten EU-12 Member States with targets are all expected to meet them using only existing policies (with Slovenia expected to do so when all existing and planned measures have been taken). The Commission adds that provisional data for 2009 suggest that emissions from the EU-15 and EU-27 fell by a further 6.9%, taking EU-15 emissions to 12.9% below base year levels, and those for EU-27 to 17.3% below the base year.

10.4 The Commission goes on to note that the EU has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 by at least 20% compared with 1990 levels, with separate targets for those sectors within and outside the Emissions Trading Scheme. It also says that there is a significant gap between the 20% target and Member States' projections, requiring a much steeper emissions reduction path after 2012, as compared with 1990-2012, and underlining the need to implement the climate and energy package agreed in 2009.

The Government's view

10.5 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 28 October 2010, the Minister of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker) says that the EU and the UK have taken a leading role in calling for, and taking, action to tackle climate change, and he notes that UK emissions in 2008 of the six greenhouse gases regulated under the Kyoto Protocol were 19.4% below base-year[57] and projected to decline further over 2008-12, meaning that the UK has already over-achieved its target of 12.5%. He adds that emissions in 2009 were provisionally estimated to be 26.3% below the baseline, but that, taking into account the effect of emissions trading increases, the reductions achieved would be 24.6% below the baseline.

10.6 The Minister also points out that the Climate Change Act 2008 introduced a long-term legally-binding target, requiring a reduction of at least 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels of the six Kyoto gases. He says that the carbon budget for the first budgetary period, which coincides with the first Kyoto commitment period, has been set at a level in excess of UK's Kyoto commitment, requiring emission reductions of just over 22% below 1990 levels.

10.7 The Minister concludes by saying that the UK welcomes this report as a useful signpost of the progress being made by Member States, although he notes that the data on which it is based are now somewhat out of date and that later projections show the UK to be on track to meet its 2020 target and carbon budgets. He also says that the Government considers that all Member States should meet their individual Kyoto targets, and that the EU-15 should not rely on over-compliance by some Member States to ensure that the overall target is met. It believes that this report will help to sustain the pressure on Member States to ensure that the necessary existing and planned measures deliver fully.


10.8 This report is the latest in a series of assessments of the EU's progress towards meeting its Kyoto targets, and provides some interesting and useful information. As in previous years, we think it right in clearing the document to report it to the House, noting that the Commission has confirmed that, provided current and planned measures deliver as expected, the EU will meet those targets, and that it is very likely these will be over-achieved.

Annex: Member States' commitments under the Community's Burden Sharing Agreement (percentage changes for 2008-2012 relative to 1990 emission levels)


56   Joint Implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Back

57   The base year is 1990 for carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, and 1995 for the three fluorinated gases. Back

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