The United Kingdom and Sweden appear to be the only European countries signatories to the Kyoto Protocol likely to achieve their greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, while this seems unlikely for Italy and Spain.
The agreement signed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 has been ratified by 155 countries and entered into force last February. The signatory European countries have thus undertaken to achieve by 2012 a total level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions lower by 8% than in 1990. Following this commitment, the European Union considered it necessary to distribute the burden of this objective among the fifteen Member States. This target can be negative (-21% for Germany), zero (0% for France) or positive (+ 15% for Spain). A positive target means that a country is allowed to increase its GHG emissions compared to 1990 in view of its ongoing economic development, but only up to a certain threshold. The signatory countries must therefore put in place an energy policy consistent with the objectives. They must each present an action plan with a precise timetable which must enable them to achieve these objectives.