While the U.S. still bandies about toothless plans to cut greenhouse gases, the European Union is almost halfway to achieving the emissions reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. According to the European Environment Agency, the 15-nation bloc has successfully decreased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 3.5 percent below 1990 levels; under Kyoto, E.U. levels must drop to 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. But the good news is slightly deceptive; thanks to big reductions in Germany and Britain, E.U. emissions were already 3.8 percent below 1990 levels in 1999 — so in fact, current levels represent a slight increase in the last few years. The increase is partly due to more reliance on coal in Britain, but nine other countries are also problem polluters, with Spain the farthest from reaching its target emissions reductions.
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