Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU fell, on average, by 2.5pc between 2010 and 2011, even though the EU economy overall grew by 1.5pc in that timeframe, a new report published today by the European Environment Agency (EEA) has revealed.
According to the latest figures from the EEA, almost all European countries are individually on track to meet their commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
"The European Union as a whole will over-deliver on its Kyoto target," said Jacqueline McGlade, the EEA’s executive director.
Under the 1997 protocol, which came into force in 2005, developed countries are required to cut their emissions by just over 5pc from 1990 levels by the end of 2012.
"In two months’ time we will be at the end of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol. Considerable progress has been made since 1997 but all member states need to deliver on their plans," said McGlade.
For EU member states that don’t achieve their target through domestic emission reductions, she said the Kyoto Protocol’s mechanisms will remain available until 2015.
Connie Hedegaard, the EU Commissioner for climate action, also said the EU is "delivering on its Kyoto commitment".
"While our economy grew 48pc since 1990, emissions are down 18pc. These figures prove once again that emissions can be cut without sacrificing the economy," she said.
According to the EEA’s estimates, the largest relative emissions decreases from 2010 to 2011 were registered in countries with small to medium shares of total EU greenhouse gas emissions. Cyprus saw emissions fall by 13pc, while Belgium, Finland and Denmark saw emissions fall by 8pc.
In absolute terms, the UK made the biggest greenhouse gas cuts, as emissions fell by 6pc, or 36m tonnes. The UK was followed by France, with a 5pc drop in emissions, and Germany, which experienced a 2pc fall in emissions.
Nine EU member states increased emissions between 2010 and 2011. For instance, Bulgaria increased emissions by 11pc, while Lithuania’s emissions rose by 3pc and Romania’s emissions increased by 2pc. The EEA said, however, that these countries have made some of the deepest cuts in emissions overall since 1990.
While economic factors did play a role in the emission reductions in certain countries, the EEA said it was notable that the EU economy grew overall by 1.5pc in 2011. It cited the warm winter as one of the key factors in cutting emissions in 2011 because demand for fossil fuels for heating was lower than in previous years.