This morning the [European Environment Agency (EEA)](http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/trends-and-projections-2013 “”) published a new report estimating Europe’s emissions were roughly 18% below 1990 levels in 2012, almost reaching the 20% target due in 2020. But campaign group Sandbag shows that this figure fails to account for the contribution of carbon offsets, which take emissions down to nearly 27% below 1990 levels in 2012, putting a 30% target within reach.
Over 500 million carbon offset credits were submitted by European companies in 2012, exacerbating the vast surpluses of allowances in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme . This has further increased the slack in the carbon budgets Europe set to meet its climate target, budgets which were already expected to accrue billions of tonnes of spare allowances by 2020.
Damien Morris, Senior Policy Advisor at Sandbag comments:
“It should be welcome news that Europe’s carbon emissions are already down so much, but the tragedy is we have failed to capture these emissions reductions by tightening climate policy. Without reform, the 2020 climate framework will undermine our future climate efforts by drowning them in spare carbon allowances. A 30% target in 2020 would be a simple way to prevent this.”
 502 million tonnes of offsets were surrendered into the ETS in 2012. This represents 8.7% of the 1990 emissions which were 5,746 million tonnes.
 Spare allowances are expected across both the EU Emissions Trading Scheme budget and the Effort Sharing Decision budget.
 The UNEP 2012 Emissions Gap report identified an 8-13 billion tonne gap in the current international pledges, if the world is to cost effectively avoid 2 degrees of global warming. international climate pledges if the world is to cost effectively avoid 2 degrees of warming.