European Community and Post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations on greenhouse gas emissions

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Main article: The European Community and Post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations on global climate change agreements

Key background information

  • Status under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: The EC has ratified both the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol.
  • Member of which negotiating group(s): European Union [1]
  • Total greenhouse gas emissions: In 2006, the EC emitted a total of 5,142.8 Mt CO2 Eq GHGs.
  • Per capita greenhouse gas emissions: Per capita emissions of GHGs in the EC in 2006 were 10.4 t CO2 Eq per person.
  • Greenhouse gas emission reduction target: (see Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for background information on the range and implications of emissions reductions scenarios).
    • under the Kyoto Protocol: The EC-27 has no emissions target under Kyoto, but the EC-15 has an emissions target of an 8% reduction from 1990 (base year) levels by 2012. [2]
    • for 2020: The EC has endorsed a personal and global goal of 30% reduction of emissions based on 1990 levels by 2020, but until negotiations are completed they maintain a firm commitment to 20% reductions based on 1990 levels by 2020.
    • for 2050: The EU suggests a global policy of 60-80% reductions of GHG emissions by 2050. [3]

Greenhouse gas emissions profile and trends

In 2007, the UNFCCC reported that the EC's GHG emissions levels were 98.5% of 1990 levels, taking into account the carbon sink attributed to land use, land use change, and reforestation. [4]

In 2006, greenhouse gas emissions by sector were

  • Energy sector (total): 4113.332 Mt CO2 Eq, or 80% of total emissions
    • Stationary energy: 3136.2 Mt CO2 Eq, or 61% of total emissions
    • Transport: 977.132 Mt CO2 Eq, or 19% of total emissions
    • Fugitive emissions from fuel:
  • Industrial processes: 411.424 Mt CO2 Eq, or 8% of total emissions
  • Agriculture: 462.852 Mt CO2 Eq, or 9% of total emissions [5]
  • Land use, land use change and forestry: N/A

History in negotiations on the convention to 2008

The European Community became a signatory to the climate change convention on June 13, 1992 and ratified the convention on December 21, 1993. The convention was entered into force on March 21, 1994. The EC signed the Kyoto Protocol on April 29, 1998 and ratified the protocol on May 31, 2002. The protocol was entered into force on February 16, 2005. [6]

National policy Performance

Ranking in Climate Change Performance Index 2008

The Climate Change Performance Index 2008 (CCPI) developed by Germanwatch did not rank the European Union as a group but only on a country-by-country basis for the Annex 1 countries.[7]

National government policies and programs

The EC's main framework for implementing climate change policies and programs is the European Climate Change Programme, launched in 2000. This framework program aims to "identify and develop all the necessary elements of an EU strategy to implement the Kyoto Protocol." [8] The main goal of the ECCP is to "help identify the most environmentally effective and most cost-effective policies and measures that can be taken at European level to cut greenhouse gas emissions." [9]The ECCP created eleven working groups to evaluate potential climate change policies in different energy and policy sectors, such as CDM, energy efficiency, forest sinks, etc. The ECCP II, launched in October 2005, will assess the implementation of ECCP I policies and establish new working groups focusing on areas like aviation emissions and CO2 storage. [9]

However, the key current policies the national government are promoting to addressing greenhouse gas emissions are:


  • Energy Efficiency: The European Commission has required, under the Energy Services Directive enacted in June 2007, all Member States to submit National Energy Efficiency Action Plans (NEEAPS) outlining "how Member States intend to achieve their adopted energy savings target by 2016." [10] While each member state is responsible for implementing their action plan, the EC will oversee these projects with the goal of increasing energy efficiency, which the EC views as a "proven, cost-effective resource" that will not only curb climate change but also increase jobs and benefit the economy. [10]
  • Electricity generation: European households have "increased their electricity consumption by 31% in the last 15 years," leading to the realization that the base of electricity generation must be shifted from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. [11]
    • Renewable energy target: In 2005, renewable energy accounted for 6.7% of total energy consumption in the EU-27, compared to 4.4% in 1990. Of the total renewable energy being implemented, windpower dominated at 75% of the total renewable capacity in 2006, excluding energy produced from large hydropower dams or biomass. [12] Even with the increase in renewable energy use, significant further growth will be needed "to meet the EU indicative target of a 21 % share of renewables in electricity by 2010 and beyond this the new target of 20 % renewables (in final energy consumption) agreed by the Council in March 2007. [13]
    • New coal-fired power stations: In October of 2008, the European Parliament passed legislation that mandated that all coal fired power stations must pay for all of their carbon dioxide emissions from 2013. This legislation may effectively "prevent the building of new coal-fired power plants from 2013 unless equipped with CCS [carbon capture and storage technology]”. The new rules require final approval from the European Parliament and EU countries. [14]
    • Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): The European Commission has funded a project group, called the ACCSEPT Project (Acceptance of CO2 Capture, Storage Economics, Policy and Technology) to analyze the social, economic, and environmental costs and benefits of CO2 capture and storage. This project has found that because coal and gas will likely remain an "important part of the fuel mix for European electricity generation," the implementation of CO2 capture and storage will be a necessary part of the climate change regime. [15]
    • Nuclear power: Nuclear power remains a controversial, although still prevalent, energy form in the European Community. With 152 reactors spread over the EU-27, "nuclear power contributes 30% of Europe’s electricity today - however, if the planned phase-out policy within some EU Member States continues, this share will be significantly reduced." [16] Nuclear power development has been left to each individual member state, but it is still part of the European Commission's Carbon Reduction Scenario for reducing GHG emissions. Because safety, sustainable energy, and economic efficiency have been significant issues in the development and use of nuclear power, the EC has taken measures to assure a level of transparency in its nuclear program. The biggest initiative, falling under the guidelines of the Euratom Treaty, is to "publish an illustrative nuclear programme on a regular basis." [16]


  • Fuel-efficient cars: The cornerstone of the EC's strategy to improve the fuel economy of cars is their proposal to reduce the CO2 emissions coming from passenger cars, which represent about 12% of the European Union's total carbon emissions. This proposal would ensure that emissions in all new EC passenger cars would not exceed 120 g CO2/km. If successfully implemented, the proposal would "translate into a 19% reduction of CO2 emissions and would place the EU among the world leaders of fuel efficient cars." [17]


In order to better regulate climate change from industry produced greenhouse gases, the EC developed the European Pollutant Emissions Register, which reports industrial emissions data for the EU-27. The EPER has a website which allows "European citizens to make their own analysis of pollution activities in a specific country or in the EU as a whole. EPER also provides background information on the pollutants mentioned in the report and their impact on human health and the environment." [18]


The European Community has focused on a variety of policy instruments to promote more efficient household energy consumption, including eco-labeling of food products, the energy-efficiency labeling of household appliances, and other EU policies, such as the EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Sustainable consumption was also made one of the seven key challenges of the EU Sustainable Development Strategy. [19]

  • Photovoltaic solar power rebate: Most solar power used in the EC today comes from solar thermal energy as opposed to photovoltaic solar energy due primarily to the high production and installation costs. [20] However, noting that the worldwide PV markets have grown "by an annual rate of approximately 35% over the last five years," and the the EU manufacturing sector for PV is lagging behind Japan, the EU recognizes the importance of promoting a clear strategy for PV research and development. In December 2003, the EU formed the Photovoltaic Technology Research Advisory Council, made up of a "broad range of members who represent a balance of the major European PV stakeholders." The goal of the PTRAC is to develop a common strategy in order to contribute to the "rapid expansion of a world class, cost-competitive, European PV industry." [21]

Key Positions in the Negotiations of a Post-Kyoto Agreement

  • Targets and timetables: (See Greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for more information) In an EU summit in Brussels in 2007, EU-27 leaders launched their post-kyoto climate change program. They pledged to cut GHG levels by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020, but would boost that percentage to 30% if the rest of the developed world agreed to those targets. They also agree to a separate binding target to obtain "at least 20% of all of Europe's energy needs from renewable source by the same date." The EU-27 also adopted a plan of "burden-sharing", whereby poorer countries would be allowed to "contribute less to the new green agenda." [22]
  • Coverage of all greenhouse-inducing gases: Unknown
  • Clean Development Mechanism: The European Community has adopted the CDM proposed by the Kyoto Protocol in 2006. Ten member states in the EU-15, as well as one of the member states that joined the EC between 2004-2007, have been implementing the Kyoto CDM in order to reach their Kyoto emissions goals by 2012. [23]
    • Carbon Capture and Storage in the Clean Development Mechanism: Portugal's October 2007 submission on behalf of the European Union on the issue of CCS in the CDM stated, "The EU does not support CCS projects involving the direct injection of CO2 into the water column because of high levels of uncertainty about levels of CO2 retention and the negative effects on ecosystems." However, the EU supported "environmentally and health safe CCS involving geological storage as a possible mitigation option ... provided that the necessary technical, economic and regulatory framework exists to provide maximum environmental integrity and ensure that any seepage is avoided." At the same time, the EU submission called joint CCS projects a "capacity building exercise" and noted an EU-China agreement "to develop and demonstrate near zero emissions coal (NZEC) technology through carbon capture and storage by 2020," along with the involvement of some EU member countries in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum. [24]
    • Nuclear power in the Clean Development Mechanism: Differs country by country.
  • The inclusion of HFC-23 projects in the Clean Development Mechanism: As of 2000, most of the HCFC-22 manufacturing facilities in the EC had implemented HFC-23 sequestration technology. The EC proposes leaving further regulation on HFC-23 CDM projects to individual member states, but promoting data collection and annual reporting. [25]
  • Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry: Although land use policies are often left to each individual member state, the EC has developed a system of landscape and spatial change assessments to help each member state develop and evaluate land-use programs. The main source of land use assessment data is the Corine land cover data set, which was produced for 1990, 2000 and 2006. [26] Although 75% of the population in Europe lives in cities, the EC is still highly concerned with the loss of agricultural, forest, and other natural lands being taken for urban uses. This affects biodiversity, since it "decreases habitats, the living space of a number of species, and fragments the landscapes that support and connect them," and it affects the global carbon cycle through the destruction of forests, which mitigate climate change by acting as carbon sinks. [27]
  • Emissions trading: The EC adopted an emissions trading scheme in 2005, called the European Union Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). Under the EU ETS, GHG allowances traded "will not be printed but held in accounts in electronic registries set up by Member States," and in that way the system operates much like a bank for carbon emissions. [28]

Role played in the negotiations of a post-Kyoto agreement

Accra climate change talks August 2008

In a submission by France on behalf of the European Community at the Accra climate change talks, it was made evident that the EC is particularly concerned with maintaining the global climate change temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This submission the emphasized the EC's position that developing countries should continue to shoulder the largest burden of reductions, with a goal of 20% reductions from 1990 levels by 2020 and 80% reductions by 2050. However, the EC does suggest that developing countries, apart from LDCs, may still have to make some larger reductions, potentially 15% by 2020 in order to keep the global temperature increase at 2 degrees Celsius. The report also emphasizes the importance of national plans for all countries, especially developing countries. [29]

COP14 talks in Poznan, December 2008

Books on national climate change policy


Main government agency websites


UNFCCC's "European Community Site"

Official national government reports to UNFCC and UNFCCC reviews of them

Annex 1 countries are required to submitted 'national communications' to the UNFCCC to report on progress in implementing the convention as are those that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

XXXX national reports and the UNFCCC response to them are:

Key organizations promoting strong greenhouse policies

Key organizations promoting weak greenhouse policies

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

On the negotiations of a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement


  1. "Party Groupings", UNFCCC website, accessed November, 2008.
  2. "GHG trends and projections in the EU-15", European Environment Agency Website, accessed November 2008.
  3. "EU Action Against Climate Change: Leading Global Action to 2020 and Beyond", European Commission Document, 2008.
  4. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, "Change in GHG Emissions Excluding LULUCF %", United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website, accessed September 2008.
  5. "GHG Profiles", UNFCCC Website, accessed November 2008.
  6. "European Community Profile", UNFCCC Website, accessed November 2008.
  7. Jan Burck, Christoph Bals, Marisa Beck and Elisabeth Rüthlein, Climate Change Performance Index 2008: A comparison of the 56 top CO2 emitting nations, December 2007. (Large Pdf).
  8. "The European Climate Change Program", European Environment Agency Website, accessed November 2008.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "European Climate Change Programme: EU Action Against Climate Change", European Climate Change Programme Brochure, January 2006.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Memo on the First Assessment of National Energy Efficiency Action Plans", Europa Website, January 2008, accessed November 2008.
  11. "Business as Usual Not an Option for the Energy System", European Environment Agency Press Release, November 2008.
  12. "Energy and Environment Report from 2008", European Environment Agency Executive Summary Report, June 3008.
  13. "Renewable Electricty" European Environment Agency Study, 2008.
  14. "Coal-fired power generators face new threat from EU carbon emissions curb", The Times Online, October 2008.
  15. "The ACCSEPT Project: Summary of the Main Findings and Key Recommendations", The ACCSEPT Project, December 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 European Approach to Nuclear Power, Safety, and Security, Europa Press Release, January 2007.
  17. "Reducing CO2 Emissions from Light Duty Vehicles" European Environment Agency Website, accessed November 2008.
  18. Review Confirms the Need to Reduce Pollution from Industrial Installations, Europa Press Release, June 2007.
  19. "Industry Policy Context, European Environment Website, accessed December 2008.
  20. "Renewable Primary Energy Consumption Assessment" European Environment Agency, April 2008.
  21. "A Vision for PV Technology", European Commission Website, accessed December, 2008.
  22. "EU leaders agree climate change targets", The Times Online, March 2007.
  23. "EU-15 on Target for Kyoto, Despite Mixed Performances", European Environment Agency Press Release, October 2008.
  24. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, "FCCC/SBSTA/2007/MISC.18/Add.1 Consideration of carbon dioxide capture and storage as clean development mechanism project activities. Submissions from Parties. Addendum (pdf)," released October 23, 2007.
  25. "HFC-23 from HCFC-22 Manufacturing" UNFCCC Report, October 2000.
  26. EEA Land Use Activities European Environment Agency, accessed December 2008.
  27. Land Take Assessment, European Environment Agency, accessed December 2008.
  28. "Emissions Trading Scheme" European Environment Agency Website, accessed November 2008.
  29. "Submission by France on Behalf of the European Community and its Member States", UNFCCC Report, November 2008.

External articles