Expatica news

Dutch risk missing Kyoto targets

3 December 2003

AMSTERDAM — The Netherlands is struggling along with a majority of European Union member states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, raising concerns in the  European Commission that the region will not meet commitments laid out in the Kyoto Protocol.

Latest figures indicate that the production of greenhouse gases has risen in 13 of the 15 EU member states, despite promises that emissions would decline. Emissions rose by 1 percent in 2001, compared with a 0.3 percent rise in 2000 and a decline in 1999.

In light of the increased emissions, Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has urged member states to take more action against the production of greenhouse gases, demanding that they demonstrate greater political decisiveness.

She said EU credibility was at stake unless it took extra measures as soon as possible. Wallstrom also said there was a lack of ideas or technological possibilities, a fact she blamed on “a lack of political will”.

Transport companies were the main problem, with trucks and other transport means emitting 20 percent more greenhouse gases in comparison with 1990. Without measures to reduce the emissions, the sector will be responsible for a 34 percent increase on 1990 levels by the year 2010.

Wallstrom has promised to discuss the matter with the transport sector — which is responsible for 80 percent of the union’s CO2 emissions — and has proposed extra taxation measures aimed at reducing emissions.

The largest rise in greenhouse gas emissions is expected to come from Spain, but Ireland, Austria and Belgium also need to take extra measures. Only Britain and Sweden have managed to reduce their emissions, newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported.

The Netherlands could narrow in on its 2010 target if it implements previously-devised extra measures. If the government does not implement the measures, emissions in 2010 will be 12 percent higher than in 1990.

And despite the fact the EU has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 percent in comparison with 1990, without extra measures that reduction will be just 0.5 percent come 2010, Wallstrom said.

The commissioner reminded member states of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which committed EU member states to reducing their 1990-level greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent, giving it a window of four years between 2008 and 2012 to meet the target.

But the Kyoto Protocol has always been the subject of doubt discussions. The US has refused to ratify it and Russia also indicated this week that it will block the landmark environmental pact because it threatens economic growth in its current form.

Russia needs to ratify Kyoto for it to come into force. The treaty requires approval from 55 countries and the countries responsible for 55 percent of emissions, which left Moscow with the casting vote, CNN reported.

As the United Nations Climate Change Convention is held in Milan this week, the Russian decision will come as a heavy blow to delegates. The protocol — which requires industrialised countries to cut their emissions of six gases which scientists believe are exacerbating natural climate change — will now have to be renegotiated or the nations that have signed will have to go it alone.

And the new figures of EU emissions loom as a thorn in the side for Europe, which has continually criticised the US, Russia and China for their refusal to ratify the treaty, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.

But despite the Russian stance and the renewed threat against the treaty, Swedish EC commissioner Mallstrom said whether the protocol became official or not, the problem of climate change was evident. “We must take extra measures within two to three years to meet the objectives,” she said.

[Copyright Expatica News 2003]

Subject: Dutch news