The European Environmental Agency has warned that this massive increase will make it very difficult for Europe to meet its Kyoto commitments to reduce CO2 by an average of 8% below 1990 levels by 2012.
The report comes ahead of the EU summit in Brussels next week when the Taoiseach and other EU leaders are expected to pledge to reduce emissions by a further 20% — 30% by 2020.
Ireland blames the country’s rapid economic growth for the increase in emissions over the past decade that saw the number of car owners grow dramatically.
Transport is now responsible for a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions in the EU 15 with road transport emitting most of this. But emissions from aviation are growing even faster and increased by 86% between 1990 and 2004.
Luxembourg topped Europe’s transport emissions league with an increase over the 14 years of 156% followed by Ireland with 140%, said the Copenhagen-based agency.
The increase was harshly criticised by the Green party. Transport spokesperson Eamon Ryan said: “As long as the urban sprawl goes unchecked, as long as people are forced to use private transport to travel to basic community facilities, and long as investment in transport remains so disproportionately in favour of roads, it is inevitable that our emissions will continue to rise”.
Many other countries have managed to cut their emissions but Ireland’s level has increased to 28% over the 1990 level. It promised to reduce it to 13% over the 1990 level by 2012.
The report said that all countries would find it difficult to achieve its targets and that new measures need to be taken.
The legislation to force car manufacturers to make cleaner cars announced by the EU earlier this month may not be enough, the European Environment Agency head, Jacqueline McGlade warned.