Environment Agency Says EU Greenhouse Gas Emissions Rose 1.3 Percent in 2003
COPENHAGEN, Denmark Greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union rose 1.3 percent in 2003, the bloc's environment agency said Tuesday, in a setback to efforts to fight global warming.
The European Environment Agency said coal burning was mainly to blame for the rise in heat-trapping gases, which many scientists believe cause global warming.
Environmental activists were shocked by the findings and said they would make it harder for the European Union to meet targets to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
"They indicate that Europe will most likely not meet its obligation to limit dangerous climate change," Friends of the Earth Europe spokesman Jan Kowalzig said.
He blamed national economy and industry ministers "who constantly block any attempts to introduce mandatory targets for renewable energies, energy efficiency rules or fuel consumption standards for cars."
The Copenhagen-based EEA said emissions in the 15 old EU members increased by 53 million tons, or 1.3 percent, in 2003, after a drop in 2002.
Counting the 10 countries that joined in 2004, the bloc's emissions increased by 1.5 percent in 2003, the agency said.
Coal burning to generate electricity was the main cause of the increase. The largest hikes in emissions from electricity and heat production were in Britain (10 million tons), Finland (7 million tons) and Germany (nearly 6 million tons).
"These figures are disappointing and further reinforce the need for member states to fully implement all the emission-reduction actions agreed at EU level as well as their own national measures," EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.
He added that several major initiatives, including the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, were not yet in place in 2003, and said the EU would achieve its Kyoto targets once these kick in fully.
Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the EU is to reduce emissions by 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. All 25 EU members have ratified the pact.
Greenhouse gas emissions from households and the services sector increased 2.8 percent, the EU agency said, citing colder weather in first quarter of 2003.
It said industrial emissions increased by 2.1 percent, partly due to higher emissions from iron and steel production as well as from refrigeration and air conditioning.
Transportation emissions increased by 0.7 percent, the EEA said, adding that Germany reduced emissions from road transport for the fourth consecutive year which partly offset emission increases from that sector in old EU member nations.
In the farming sector, emissions decreased mainly due to the declining number of cattle and lower emissions from agricultural soils.
Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in the old 15 EU countries have decreased by 1.7 percent, and five-year average emissions between 1999 and 2003 are currently 2.9 percent below the base year emissions, the EEA said.
Source: Associated Press