German & British CO2 Emissions Rise Again

Increases in Germany seens as result of burning lignite coal and in UK as shift from natural gas to coal for power generation.

Published: 05-Feb-2002

LONDON, UK, February 4, 2002 (ENS) - German and British carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions rose in 2001 for the second year running, and in both countries by more than in 2000, according to independent forecasters.

Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas are linked to global climate warming. They are governed by the Kyoto Protocol in 38 industrialized countries including Germany and the United Kingdom.

The data add weight to warnings from the European Environment Agency and others that the European Union is relying dangerously heavily on Anglo-German emission reductions to meet its overall Kyoto Protocol commitment.

In a report released today, independent British forecaster Cambridge Econometrics put the 2001 increase in UK CO2 emissions at three percent, compared with a two percent rise in 2000.

On Friday, meanwhile, Bonn based lobby group Germanwatch estimated that German emissions rose by 1.5 percent in 2001, compared with one percent in 2000.

The figures are potentially worrying because of the central role Germany and the UK have played since 1990 in enabling the European Union achieve an overall cut in emissions. If this engine of European gas reduction were to choke or even go into reverse then the EU as a whole would find it much harder to meet its Kyoto Protocol commitment to cut emissions eight percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

Key factors behind the Anglo-German 2001 emission increases are more use of brown coal known as lignite in Germany, and, for the second year running, a shift away from natural gas towards coal in Britain's electricity sector.

Germanwatch blamed policies of the previous government for approving construction of new coal-fired power stations.

Cambridge Econometrics said the UK data reflected "inherent contradictions" in government policies aimed simultaneously at providing cheaper energy and achieving energy and emission savings.

The UK forecaster went on to reinforce previous warnings that the UK is now looking less and less likely to meet its unilateral target of achieving a 20 percent CO2 emission cut over 1990 levels by 2020.

This was disputed by the UK government, with an Environment Ministry spokesperson claiming the current rise is a temporary development. The government remains confident that the basket of all six greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol would decline by 23 percent by 2010 and CO2 by 19 percent, he told reporters.

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