Greenhouse gas emissions from the European Union dropped 7.7 per cent from 1990 to 2006, even though use of carbon dioxide-intensive coal increased over the same period, according to a report by the European Environment Agency. At this pace, the EU would very nearly fulfill its Kyoto commitment to reduce greenhouse gases by eight per cent compared to 1990 levels before 2012, the Copenhagen-based Agency said in its annual report.
Under the Kyoto Protocol signatory nations are legally bound to cut output of six carbon gases to the levels existing in 1990.
According to the report, emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, remained stable across the EU's 27 nations in 2006 as compared to the previous year. The use of coal, however, was an area of concern as increased use of the fossil fuel for power and heat production resulted in an increase of 15.4 million tonnes of CO2 from this sector in 2006. The nation with the worst record in this area was Poland, which alone accounted for an increment of 7.6 million tonnes of coal-generated emissions.
Denmark and Finland were responsible for the largest relative increase in greenhouse gas emissions, 10.9 and 16.3 per cent respectively, also on account of an increase in the use of coal to generate power.
EU-15 nations cut emissions by 0.8 per cent, or some 35 million tonnes, in 2006, accounting for 81 per cent of the EU total. For EU-27, net reduction in 2006 of greenhouse gases was due mainly to lower emission of nitrous oxide produced by chemical plants, the report said.
Under the Kyoto rules, the EU must report the emissions for each greenhouse gas from every member state on an annual basis.
Beyond its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, the EU has unilaterally set a goal of reducing the gases that drive global warming 20 per cent by 2020.