Germany on track to meet Kyoto targets
The German government released data for 2007 greenhouse gas emissions on Friday that it said showed it was well on track to meet its international climate change commitments under the Kyoto Protocol.
Greenhouse gas emissions, blamed for causing global warming, were 22 percent lower in 2007 than the base years of 1990 or 1995 set out in the protocol, the environment ministry said in a statement.
Germany pledged under Kyoto in 1997 to lower its emissions by 21 percent by 2012 and the figures for 2007 show that Western Europe's most populous country is now "assured" of meeting its goals for the years 2008 to 2010, it said.
It cautioned however that the reduction last year was in part due to a mild winter and because consumers scrambled to buy heating oil in 2006 before a higher tax rate came into force in 2007.
Because the results are based on when fuel is bought and not when it is burned, releasing the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, this skewed the statistics somewhat.
It said that "sadly" there was an increase in emissions from power stations, "showing that government efforts in the area of renewable energy sources were not yet enough to compensate for the increase in electricity demand."
A report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung said the rise was because high gas prices and five nuclear power stations were out of action, prompting more power generation using more polluting coal.
"It is therefore expected that the figures for 2008 will not be as positive as for 2007," Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in the statement. "The figures on the whole look good but it is no reason to relax."
The data came ahead of crunch international talks hosted by the United Nations from Monday in Poznan, Poland, aimed at preparing the ground for a new global climate pact to be signed in Copenhagen in December 2009.
The Copenhagen accord, set to be the most complex and ambitious international climate agreement yet, is intended to follow on from the commitments of the 192-member UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)'s Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
"Kyoto is just a first, small step. In order to be able to counter climate change we must make massive steps forward," Gabriel said. "This is why we are pressing in talks for an EU climate package with ambitious goals."
The European Union has fixed a triple climate objective for 2020 - a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, generating 20 percent of its power with renewables and cutting energy use by the same amount.
But many of the EU's 27 members want to protect their national industries from the costs that the targets would involve and the global economic slowdown has made governments want to spend money in other areas.
The package narrowly avoided disaster in October, with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi only withdrawing vetoes when some decisions were put off to an EU summit on December 11-12, at the same time when the Poznan talks are due to wrap up.