The European Union is on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to data released by the European Environment Agency (EEA) Wednesday. “The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target,” said EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade in a press release.
Overall EU emissions between 2010 and 2011 fell, on average, by 2.5 percent. Among member states, the United Kingdom was credited with making the biggest emissions cuts by volume, with a reduction of 36 million tonnes CO2 equivalent (Mt CO2 eq.) in 2011, or 6 percent. Cyprus, which contributes a relatively small share of the EU’s emissions, made the largest reduction by percentage, achieving a 13 percent emissions drop in 2011.
The EEA’s report attributed the drop partially to a warm winter, noting that the residential and commercial sector played the largest role in lowering emissions. “Although economic factors played a part in certain countries, it is notable that the EU economy overall grew by 1.5 percent while emissions fell by 2.5 percent,” the release said.
Nine EU states, including Bulgaria and Lithuania, saw a rise in emissions last year. However, those nations have achieved overall reductions in greenhouse gases since 1990, according to the EEA.
The EU has committed to reducing emissions by 20 percent between 1990 and 2020. So far, it has achieved a drop of 16.5 percent and is on track to meet the full goal. But “most Member States need to step up their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating the implementation of those additional policies and measures they have already planned,” the EEA said.
The European Union is the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the United States, according to the International Energy Agency, or IEA (see related map: Global Carbon Footprints). Estimates released by the IEA in May showed that China had an emissions increase of 9.3 percent in 2011, while emissions in the U.S. fell by 1.7 percent. Neither nation is bound to emissions targets under the Kyoto Protocol.