The EU seems to be slipping in its bid to meet the greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets it has set for itself. The union's 2008-2012 goal is to reduce emission of the six main GHGs by eight per cent on 1990 levels. But the European Environment Agency's latest GHG inventory shows that emissions have increased for the second successive year. There is, however, some good news. Emissions from industrial processes and waste have reduced significantly.
In 1999, it was reported that GHG levels in the EU were 3.9 per cent below 1990 levels. But by the end of 2001, emissions were only 2.3 per cent lower than in 1990. To counter the regressive trend, European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrm has suggested immediate action. "The progress we have made already needs to be backed up by additional measures. The members that are not on track in reaching their targets need to take more steps," she said.
The inventory records that in 2001, 82 per cent of the EU's emissions comprised carbon dioxide. This was 1.6 per cent above the 1990 level. There were also significant rises in the fluorinated gases, with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) mounting by 69 per cent and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) by 14.7 per cent, although perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) fell by 58.8 per cent. The majority of emissions were found to have originated from the energy sector (81 per cent).
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