Industrial Countries' Greenhouse Gas Emissions Going Up

BONN, Germany, October 31, 2006 - Emissions by industrialized countries of greenhouse gases linked to global warming showed a "worrying" upward trend in the 2000–2004 period despite efforts to control them under the Kyoto Protocol, finds a United Nations report released on Monday. The UN Climate Secretariat released the report one week before the annual international climate change conference, held this year in Nairobi, Kenya.

Although the overall emissions by industrialized countries dropped 3.3 per cent in the 1990–2004 period, this was mostly due to a 36.8 percent decrease by economies in transition of eastern and central Europe, EITs, the report shows. The other industrialized Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, registered a 11 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

"The worrying fact is that EITs, which were mostly responsible for the overall emissions reductions of industrialized countries so far, as a group have experienced an emission increase of 4.1 percent in the period 2000-2004," said UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer when launching the report in Bonn.

de Boer

Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands was appointed as the new executive secretary of the UNFCCC on 10 August, 2006. Previously, he was director for International Affairs of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment of the Netherlands. (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
"This means that industrialized countries will need to intensify their efforts to implement strong policies which reduce greenhouse gas emissions," he said.

The report, "Greenhouse Gas Data, 2006," includes the first complete set of data submitted by all 41 industrialized Parties. The United States, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, is not a Party to the Kyoto Protocol.

Emission reductions are urgently required in the transport sector but they seem to be especially difficult to achieve, growing by 23.9 per cent from 1990 to 2004, the report states.

The Kyoto Protocol requires 35 industrialized countries and the European Community to reduce greenhouse emissions by an average of five percent below 1990 levels in its first commitment period between 2008 and 2012.

Despite the emission growth in some countries in the latest period 2000-2004, the Parties stand a good chance of meeting individual emissions reduction commitments if they speedily apply the additional domestic mitigation measures they are planning and use the Kyoto Protocol’s market-based flexibility mechanisms, the report suggests.

One promising option for meeting the targets is the use of the clean development mechanism, CDM, which allows industrialized countries to invest in sustainable development projects that reduce emissions in developing countries. The industrialized countries can use these projects to generate tradable emission credits.

To date, around 375 CDM projects have been registered, with a total estimated emission reduction potential of more than 600 million metric tons. More than 900 more projects are in the pipeline.

The total estimated emission reduction potential of all projects currently in the CDM pipeline in the period up to 2012 stands at around 1.4 billion metric tonnes, which amounts to about 12 percent of what industrialized Kyoto Protocol Parties emitted in 1990.

power plant

Power plants emit greenhouse gases that are raising the global temperature. The Melnik power plant in the Czech Republic burns brown coal. Carbon dioxide emissions from brown coal fired plants are generally much higher than for comparable black coal plants. (Photo courtesy CEZ AS)
Last week, the UNFCCC launched the second project-based mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol - joint implementation, JI, which allows developed countries to acquire carbon credits from greenhouse gas emission reducing projects undertaken in other industrialized countries. These porjects too can be used to generate tradable emission credits.

"In the countries that are members of the European Union, the use of the EU emissions trading scheme is growing in importance," said de Boer.

"We are looking forward to emissions trading between all countries with emission targets under the Kyoto Protocol when the first commitment period starts in 2008," he said. "The United Nations Climate Change Secretariat is presently putting in place the required support infrastructure to make this possible."

"At the same time, it is clear that further global action on climate change is urgently needed to generate significant investment flows into clean technology, making use of existing and new market mechanisms," he urged.

At the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Nairobi which takes place from November 6 to 17, negotiations on the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will continue, along with a dialogue on the future of the climate change process under the UNFCCC.

All plenary sessions, official meetings and press conferences will be webcasted through on-demand streaming. Selected side events will be available on-demand as well.

Latest projections by the European Commission indicate that the 15 European Union states which were members before 2004 - the EU-15 - will only just reach their Kyoto Protocol target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The EU-15 are committed to reducing their collective emissions in the 2008-2012 period to eight percent below the levels of the base year of 1990.

The European Commission's annual progress report released on Friday shows that an eight percent cut can be achieved in 2010 – the period's mid-point – provided that all actions planned by EU member states are fully implemented and deliver the emission savings anticipated.

Seven EU-15 member states project that they will exceed their individual emission limits, which are binding under EU law. The seven are Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.


Traffic Jam on the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle, England. Vehicles are responsible for a large percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. (Photo courtesy FreeFoto)
For the 25 current Member States - the EU-25 - the overall emission reduction by 2010 would be 10.8 percent.

"These projections show there is no room for complacency or error," said Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

"The Commission continues to launch new initiatives to reduce European emissions, as the Energy Efficiency Action Plan announced last week demonstrates. But all member states must pull their weight to ensure that we deliver on our collective commitment."

"Those that are not on track urgently need to step up efforts to meet their targets, if necessary by taking further national measures to reduce emissions," Dimas warned.

As announced in June, EU-15 greenhouse gas emissions in 2004 - the latest year for which complete data are available – were 0.9 percent lower than base year levels, while the economy expanded by 32 percent over the same period.

But that level of performance does not satisfy environmentalists. A public demonstration to urge effective action against global warming will be held by the Stop Climate Chaos pressure group on Saturday November 4 in London’s Trafalgar Square between 1 and 3 pm. Thousands are expected to attend and "be counted" at the free event that will take place on the eve of global climate change talks in Nairobi.

"This is going to be the biggest climate change event this year and an opportunity for all of us who care to stand up and be counted," said Ashok Sinha, director of Stop Climate Chaos. He expects that thousands of people will be travelling to the event from all over the UK.

The demonstrators will demand that the UK government negotiate an international deal to keep global warming levels from rising more than two degrees Centigrade and introduce a Climate Change Bill into the Queen's Speech from the Throne that will open the new legislative session.

Called "I Count," the event is intended to inspire personal and political action and counter the view that climate change is too big a problem to fix. The campaign has the backing of film maker David Attenborough among other high profile supporters.

Attenborough said "I Count" is important because, "The world is facing its greatest man-made threat ever - climate change. Urgent action is needed - by individuals and most of all governments. Without political will, action on the scale required will not be possible."