Press Release: Report Reviews National Climate Change Programs of Five EU Countries and their Kyoto Targets

For Immediate Release :
June 21, 2000

Contact: Juan Cortinas, 202-777-3519
             Katie Mandes, 703-516-4146
             Leonie Edwards, +44 02-07-457-2345 (London)

Report Reviews National Climate Change Programs of Five EU Countries and their Kyoto Targets:   Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Austria, and Spain Examined

London, UK — Of five European Union countries reviewed in a newly-released report, only the United Kingdom is currently on track to achieve its Kyoto Protocol emissions reduction target. Germany will not achieve its target based on current measures alone but strong political commitment and further measures, including recent proposals put forth by the government, could put the country within reach of its goal. The Netherlands, Austria, and Spain are not expected to meet their Kyoto targets based on their current programs.

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change report, "The European Union and Global Climate Change: A Review of Five National Programmes," is co-authored by John Gummer, MP, former UK Environment Minister and Chairman of Sancroft International Ltd., and Robert Moreland, also of Sancroft, an environmental consulting firm. The report examines the climate change programs of Germany, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Austria, and Spain, presents the national emissions reduction targets to which the countries committed under the Kyoto Protocol, and draws conclusions on the likelihood of success taking into consideration the political will and obstacles in each country.

"As we approach the third anniversary of the Kyoto Protocol and continue working to address the questions raised but not answered in the agreement, it is worth examining whether these countries are on track to deliver their promised reductions," said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. "This is especially true given the current discussions advocating ratification by 2002."

Following are some country-by-country findings:

Germany
The largest GHG emitter in the EU, Germany's reduction target is 21 percent below its 1990 levels. Emissions are currently 17 percent below, largely due to dramatic reductions in the former East Germany. The main elements of the current program include eco-taxes, voluntary agreements with industry, policies to reduce coal production and use, and to promote co-generation, district heating, natural gas, and renewable energy. 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.

United Kingdom
The United Kingdom has committed to reducing its emissions by 12.5 percent below 1990 levels. Emissions are currently down 14.6 percent, due primarily to fuel switching from coal to natural gas, but further switching will have diminishing returns. To stay on track, the UK program encourages renewable energy, co-generation, and district heating; employs eco-taxes to support fuel-efficient vehicles and to reduce domestic fuel use and energy use by businesses (through a revenue-neutral levy); and is working with industry to find ways to introduce an emissions trading system. Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott now has direct responsibility for the issue and his strong personal commitment will help the UK maintain political support for climate change action.

The Netherlands
The Netherlands Kyoto target is to reduce overall emissions 6 percent below 1990 levels. Current CO2 emissions have increased by 17 percent, calling into question the country's ability to meet its target despite its strong political commitment and intention to purchase half its reductions through emissions trading. The government has introduced a wide range of measures but they have not reversed the trend of growing emissions, a result of the high-energy use of its economic base and the country's strong economy.

Austria
Austria's Kyoto Protocol commitment is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 13 percent from 1990 levels. Per capita emissions are already low, due to heavy use of hydropower and biomass energy and strong support for public transportation. CO2 emissions have increased by around 8 percent and the government has devised a policy package to reverse this increase. The difficulty lies in the potential for diminishing returns from furthering its renewables, energy savings, and transportation policies; also, public opinion is that Austria has no great problem from most emission sources and consequently could react against tougher measures.

Spain
Because of its need for economic growth and its relatively low level of per capita emissions, Spain's target is to limit its emissions increase to 15 percent above 1990 levels. With current emissions already 11 to 13 percent over, the country is unlikely to meet its target without additional action. Environmental concern in Spain is generally lower than elsewhere in the EU. As the largest net recipient from the EU budget, pressure from net contributor states (particularly Germany, The Netherlands, and the UK) is a lever that may help ensure further action on climate change by the Spanish government.

A complete copy of this report is available on the Pew Center's web site, www.c2es.org.

The Pew Center was established in May 1998 by the Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest philanthropies and an influential voice in efforts to improve the quality of America's environment. The Pew Center supports businesses in developing marketplace solutions to reduce greenhouse gases, produces analytical reports on the science, economics, and policies related to climate change, launches public education efforts, and promotes better understanding of market mechanisms globally. Eileen Claussen, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, is the President of the Pew Center. The Pew Center includes the Business Environmental Leadership Council, which is composed of 21 major, largely Fortune 500 corporations all working with the Pew Center to address issues related to climate change. The companies do not contribute financially to the Pew Center — it is solely supported by contributions from charitable foundations.