Europeans missing their Kyoto targets

Britain and Sweden are the only European countries honouring their Kyoto commitments to cut greenhouse gasses, according to a think-tank report.

Although the US is portrayed as the ecological villain for refusing to sign up to the agreement, 10 out of the 15 European Union signatories - including Ireland, Italy and Spain - will miss their targets without urgent action, the Institute for Public Policy Research found.

France, Greece and Germany are given "amber warnings" and will only achieve the objectives if planned policies are successfully carried out.

Tony Grayling, the institute's associate director, said the world was near the point of no return on climate change. "We have little time left to start reducing global greenhouse gas emissions before irreparable damage is done. It is vital that EU countries keep their promises to cut pollution. They must take action now to get back on the Kyoto track, including energy saving and investment in renewable energy."

EU countries would have to adopt tougher limits on emissions from power stations and heavy industry in the new year as part of the second phase of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, he said.

Recent figures show carbon dioxide emissions increasing in 13 out of the 15 countries, including Britain, the report says.

The British Government was condemned by its own guru on global warming earlier this month for failing to meet its targets on climate change.

Ministers set themselves the target of reducing CO 2 emissions by 12.5 per cent from their 1990 levels by 2012, but Britain's production of the gas has increased by 9 per cent since 1999.

In his first report as head of the Commission for Sustainable Development, Sir Jonathon Porritt gave colour-coded ratings for the Government's performance on climate change. CO 2 emissions were given red , as were the performances on reducing waste, lowering water consumption and achieving sustainable development. All other targets were given amber lights. Ministers failed to achieve a green light for any if their objectives and the Government's own Whitehall departments were criticised in the report for wasting energy and water.