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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 January 2007, 00:25 GMT
In graphics: The EU and emissions
The European Commission has put forward a package of proposals on energy policy and how to tackle climate change, which it says is the biggest challenge facing the world.

Europe is itself battling to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set in the Kyoto agreement.

GHG emissions in various states

The European Union contributes significantly to the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

This is in part due to the fact that Europe relies heavily on fossil fuels for energy.

However, the union has ratified the Kyoto agreement to reduce emissions, unlike the US.

The EU has also pledged to source 21% of its energy from renewables by 2010.

European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalg has said the EU will need to find the "clear majority of its energy use from carbon-free sources" by 2050.

Kyoto trends and targets

Under Kyoto, the EU15 member states are committed to making an 8% reduction in emissions, compared with 1990 levels, by 2008-12.

But by 2004, they had made a reduction of only 0.9% - and if current trends continue that will be just 0.6% by 2010.

However, if one takes into account existing plans to reduce emissions and other schemes to offset them such as clean development projects in other countries and carbon sinks, the European Environment Agency reckons the EU15 is just on track to meet its commitment.

Distance to Kyoto targets

But measuring progress towards the Kyoto targets is complicated. In another analysis from the EEA, the EU15 is 2.3 percentage points away from a hypothetical linear path between 1990 and the 2010 target.

However what this analysis also shows is that some countries are doing better than others. Spain still has a long way to go to reach its target, whereas the UK and Sweden appear on track to meet their commitment with room to spare.

A number of other countries do not think they will be able to meet their targets, among them Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Portugal.


The newer member states of the EU25 - which made up the EU from May 2004 to January 2007 when Bulgaria and Romania joined - generally have a better per capita record on emissions than the EU15 powers.

Seven of the 10 new states registered substantial falls in per capita emissions in the 1990s. Cyprus, Slovenia and Malta were the exceptions.

However, the economies of many of the new states are so small compared with the big five - Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain - that these improvements do not have much impact on the EU's total emissions.

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