February 28, 2007
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Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 11, NUMBER 7, JULY 1998
a marathon negotiating session in June 1998, the EU finally agreed on specific binding
commitments for each of its members, to achieve the overall EU goal of reducing emissions
of six greenhouse gases eight percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The process became
difficult because several countries wanted to relax the allocations originally proposed in
1997. In the final agreement, most of the richer northern countries, with the exception of
the U.K., got a slight reduction in their commitments. The commitments of Spain, Portugal
and Greece were reduced substantially. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 608-609, June
24, 1998; New Scientist, p. 22, May 9, and commentary on p. 51, May 16; Global
Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3, June 12.
In March, the European automobile industry offered to voluntarily cut average fleet CO2
emissions to 140 grams per kilometer. This 25 percent reduction would be a less ambitious
goal than the 120 gram level proposed by the EU Council of Ministers last year. (See Intl.
Environ. Rptr., pp. 312-313, Apr. 1.) But the offer is contingent on the adoption of
similar standards in the U.S. and Japan. The European Commission agreed to the plan in
late July, after some details were worked out, but it is subject to final approval from
the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. (See ibid., p. 764, Aug. 5.)
For discussion of the European situation as well as the efficacy of such CAFE (corporate
average fuel efficiency) standards in general, see New Scientist, pp. 18-19, Apr.
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