It is good news that the European Union is on track to meet its Kyoto Protocol targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions - as the European Commission announced this week. It offers some hope of a partial contribution to remedying global climate change.

If current projections prove accurate, by 2010, EU emissions will be 8.6% below their 1990 levels.

But progress to date is slow. By 2002 - the latest year for which figures are available - emissions had been reduced by 2.9% in the EU-15 and by 9.0% in the EU-25. Good, but not good enough.

The EU has recently strengthened its legislation, with measures on combined heat and power and on emissions trading - finalised just this week. But other new rules are still stuck in the EU's legislative machinery. Overall implementation must improve, notably in Germany, Spain, and Italy. And emissions continue to rise in the transport sector: in 2002 they were almost 22% higher than in 1990.

Meanwhile, last week's United Nations conference on climate change produced only a meagre result. There is no prospect of any early agreement on further action beyond the current 2012 horizon of the Kyoto Protocol: resistance by the US, India, Brazil and China made sure of...

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