Europe failing to tackle emissions growth

Despite its image as the global hub of good environmental governance, the latest figures show that even Europe cannot keep its emissions growth under control.

Emissions of greenhouse gases from the original EU-15 increased by 1.3%, while total EU-25 emissions rose by 1.5%, in 2003 compared to 2002.

Since 1990, the basemark against which Kyoto reduction targets are set, CO2 emissions in the EU-15 have increased by 3.4% although overall greenhouse gas emissions, including methane and others, have decreased by 1.7%.

A rise in the use of coal for power production has been attributed for the rise, particularly during the cold first quarter, although greenhouse gas emissions from the household and service sector increased considerably too.

Overall, between 2002 and 2003, Italy, the UK and Finland saw the largest emission increases in absolute terms, while Portugal and Ireland saw reductions.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas admitted that the figures were embarrassing but pointed out that several major emission reduction initiatives, such as the emissions trading scheme, were not in place when the figures were taken.

“These figures are disappointing and further reinforce the need for Member States to fully implement all the emission-reduction actions agreed at EU level as well as their own national measures,” he said.

Friends of the Earth pointed out that the figures will put more pressure on Tony Blair as he tries to encourage world leaders to tackle climate change during the G8 summit in Gleneagles next month.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Chief Executive, Duncan McLaren, said:

“These alarming figures show that Europe is failing to take the necessary action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They certainly do not help Tony Blair convince the rest of the world to take tough action on climate change. Time is running out. Unless urgent action is taken on climate change the impacts will disastrous for people and the planet.

“The pressure is now on all the G8 leaders coming to Scotland to come up with a serious set of proposals that will lead to the cuts in pollution needed to halt climate change.”

The figures were published by the European Environment Agency. Full details can be found on their website.

By David Hopkins

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