The European Union's greenhouse gas emissions rose in 2010 for the first time in six years, but the 27-nation bloc is still on track to meet its target under an international climate accord, the EU's environmental agency said Wednesday.
Emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases increased by 2.4 percent as some EU countries bounced back from recession, the European Environment Agency said. In addition, a colder winter than in the previous year led to higher heating demand, the EEA added.
"Emissions increased in 2010. This rebound effect was expected as most of Europe came out of recession," EEA Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said. "However, the increase could have been even higher without the fast expansion of renewable energy generation in the EU."
The figures were verified by member countries and submitted to the United Nations' climate agency. The emissions for 2011 are still being calculated but data from the EU's emissions trading scheme indicate a 2 percent decrease. The trading system covers about 40 percent of the EU's emissions, but not sectors such as transportation, household heating and agriculture.
Despite the increase in 2010, the EU is on track to meet its emissions targets under the Kyoto protocol, a 1997 climate accord limiting the emissions of most industrialized countries, the EEA said. Fifteen EU countries are committed to an 8 percent reduction in greenhouse gases in 2008-2012, compared to 1990 levels. The other 12 countries have individual targets except the small island nations of Malta and Cyprus.
The EU has agreed to extending the Kyoto pact when it expires at the end of this year, but other developed countries such as Canada, Japan and Russia don't want to join a second commitment period. The U.S. never ratified the Kyoto accord, saying it was unfair because it doesn't include China and other major emerging economies, and that it would hurt the U.S. economy.