Of five European Union countries reviewed in a Pew Center on Global Climate Change
report, “The European Union and Global Climate Change: A Review of Five National Programmes,” only the United Kingdom is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment. reduction target.
Germany is the largest EU emitter in the EU and is committed to reducing emissions 21% 1990 levels. Emissions are down by 17%, largely due to dramatic reductions in the former East Germany. The report concludes that despite likely additional programs
and strong political commitment, reductions are unlikely to continue at the same pace, and it will be difficult for Germany to reach its Kyoto target. Germany has a varied program to reduce emissions ranging from green taxes to renewable energy.
The United Kingdom has committed to reducing emissions by 12.5% below 1990 levels and emissions are down 14.6%, primarily from shifting from coal to natural gas. The UK program encourages renewable energy, encourages fuel-efficient vehicles through green taxes and plans to introduce an emissions trading system.
The Netherlands committed to reduce emissions by 6% below 1990 levels, but CO2 emissions have increased by 17% despite strong political will. The country plans to purchase half its reductions through emissions trading.
Austria’s commitment is to reduce emissions by 13% from 1990 levels. Per capita
emissions are already low due to heavy use of hydropower and biomass energy and strong support for public transportation. Even so, CO2 emissions have increased by 8%.
Another PEW report,
“Land Use and Global Climate Change: Forests, Land Management and the Kyoto Protocol” looks at the role of sequestration in mollifying global climate change. It asks “whether land use and forestry activities can provide the same long-
term benefit for the global climate system as direct reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.” The report states that storing carbon may be among the menu of options, but only if carbon fluxes caused by deforestation, land clearance, plantations and regenerating forests are accounted for.
“Uncertainty regarding the permanence of carbon sinks necessitates great caution in using sinks as the basis to allow higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, as many industrial countries lead by the U.S. are advocating to do. Deforestation
and other land uses should count as carbon emissions even if fast growing plantations that remove carbon are planted in the cleared area. Maintaining existing carbon sinks in ancient forests, while removing carbon through restoration, regeneration and plantations in deforested and degraded areas, should be encouraged.
You will find other recent reports on the website, including “The Kyoto Mechanisms and Global Climate Change: Coordination Issues and Domestic Policies.” It examines the design of the Kyoto Mechanisms.