Britain will meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto protocol on climate change but many other European countries will fail to do so, according to a report from the Institute of Public Policy Research published recently.
Apparently only UK and Sweden look likely, on projections of their greenhouse gas emissions, to meet their targets under the protocol. The UK is obliged by the treaty to cut its annual emissions by 12.5% compared with 1990 levels. Its success will be judged by taking an average of annual emissions between 2008 and 2012, when the current provisions of the treaty expire.
Tony Grayling, associate director of IPPR, said: “We are nearing the point of no return on climate change. We have very little time left to start reducing global greenhouse gas emissions before irreparable damage is done. It is vital that EU countries keep their promises to cut pollution.”
The EU has been among the strongest supporters of the Kyoto protocol. At the latest round of talks on the treaty in Montreal in November and December, EU negotiators succeeded in winning the agreement of the US to hold talks from next year on the future of international co-operation on climate change under the auspices of the UN.
The EU delegation also had some success in attracting China and India, which, as developing countries, are not required to cut their emissions under the current treaty but whose rapid industrialization means they account for an increasing share of emissions. But, if the bloc failed to meet its commitments under the treaty, which would strengthen the hand of opponents of Kyoto in the US and make it difficult for the EU to persuade developing countries to sign up to cuts.
France, Greece and Germany were rated as “amber” in a traffic lights system devised by IPPR to judge how likely member states were to meet their commitments. Britain and Sweden were given a “green” light while other EU countries, Ireland, Italy, Spain were graded “red”, meaning they were judged unlikely to be able to hit their targets at current rates of progress.
Mr Grayling advised that member states should treat the task of meeting their Kyoto commitments as urgent: “They must take action now to get back on the Kyoto track, including energy saving and investment in renewable energy. In the new year, EU countries will need to adopt tougher limits on emissions from power stations and heavy industry, in the second phase of the EU emissions trading scheme.”