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Kyoto Protocol CO2 Reduction Targets – Fact Sheet

Climate change is generally agreed to be one of the most serious environmental threats facing the planet. International consensus has been reached that anthropomorphic climate change is occurring  The UK alone emits around 160 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, of which 80% is produced from the burning of fossil fuels to supply our energy needs. As a result, energy efficiency has come to be recognised as an essential tool for reducing the impacts of global warming.

Background

In 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, the UK signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and along with other developed countries agreed to return emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to 1990 levels by 2000. In December 1997, the parties to the Convention met again at Kyoto, and agreed to cut emissions of the six main greenhouse gases by 6% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. However, it was not until February 2005, when Russia ratified the agreement, that enough countries had signed up for the Kyoto Protocol to officially come into force. Australia and the USA did not ratify, opting instead to adopt a non-binding Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development with four other countries.

Targets

The following table summarises the reduction target for some of the key parties to the Convention as agreed at Kyoto, plus an estimate of whether the target will be met, based on current trends.

The EU as a whole has an 8% reduction target. However, a ‘basket’ approach to achieving this reduction is being taken, with differing targets for different Member States. The more industrialised countries such as the UK and Germany have generally been given more stringent targets than those countries whose per capita emissions are currently far lower, such as Portugal and Greece.

As can be seen from the table, very few countries are on course to meet their targets unless more strigent measures are implemented. While the UK was one of the few countries likely to exceed the original target of stabilisation of CO2 emissions by 2000 based on 1990 levels (agreed at Rio), this was primarily due to the running down of the country’s coal industry and the ‘dash for gas’ that followed privatisation. As a result, emissions are forecast to rise between 2000 and 2010 unless further measures are taken.

Nation
Kyoto Emission limit; percent change 1990 to 2008/12
Percent change at 2000, since 1990
Will the target be met, based on current trends?
Australia
+8
+25.6
No They did not ratify the agreement.
Austria
-13
+8.1
No
Belgium
-7.5
+13.7
No CO2 +8% by 2000, +15% by 2005
Canada
-5
+22.1
No
Denmark
-21
+2.0
No stabilisation by 2000 should be achieved, further reductions will require additional measures.
Finland
0
+4.5
No
France
0
-3.6
Yes
Germany
-21
-15.2
Possible On track to meet target
Greece
+25
+21.6
Possible if Climate Change Programme is implemented, emissions are estimated to increase by 15%, without implementation, an increase of more than 25% is expected.
Ireland
+13
+29.8
No
Italy
-6.5
+7
No
Japan
-6
+12
No CO2 emissions in 1995 had already increased 6.7% per capita and 8.3% in total on 1990 levels.
Luxembourg
-28
?
n/a No information
Netherlands
-6
+10.4
No
New Zealand
0
+37.4
No
Norway
+1
+21.7
No
Portugal
+27
+48.8
No
Spain
+15
+35.1
No 50% increase of GHGs forecast for 2005.
Sweden
+4
-2.0
Yes CO2 emissions are expected to increase by 20% by 2000 and 40% by 2010.
Switzerland
-8
-6.0
Yes
UK/Northern Ireland
-12.5
-3.3
Possible Emissions has risen recently but the switch to gas and decline in industry made a significant impact. Meeting the domestic 20% target is less likely.
USA
-7
+17.9
No Did not ratify

Source: World Resources Institute (CAIT), 2005

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