EU surpasses Kyoto emissions targets with focus on renewable energy

By Arman Kazemi

August 20, 2015

By the end of 2012, the European Union had far surpassed its greenhouse-gas reduction goal of five per cent below 1990 levels, as set out under the Kyoto Protocol.

According to a statement from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the total greenhouse gas emissions of the 37 countries with binding targets were 22.6 per cent below 1990 levels in 2012, exceeding the five per cent goal by a large margin.

The 28 EU member states have since set a much more ambitious goal of 40 per cent reductions by 2030.

The EU also plans to source 20 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020. That figure is already at 15 per cent.

The latest report from the European Commission Joint Research Centre found that EU greenhouse gas emissions fell by 8.8 per cent in each of the three years up to and including 2012. Two thirds of that decline is due to an increase in wind and solar power. The rest is mostly due to renewable energy being used for heating and cooling.

Two thirds of the total reductions came from five member states: Germany, Sweden, France, Italy and Spain.

The UNFCCC claims these successes are “a powerful demonstration that climate change agreements not only work but can drive even higher ambition over time.”

The Canadian government’s abandonment of its own Kyoto Protocol obligations, meanwhile, has been criticized for partly contributing to the recent economic downturn as oil prices continue to decrease and international trade partners diversify their energy portfolios.

The UNFCCC claims that “the successful completion of the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period can serve as a beacon for governments as they work towards a new, universal climate change agreement.”



Photo Credit: United Nations Photo