EU sets climate-change timetable

European bloc pledges global warming action plan to come into effect in early 2009.

    The European Union aims to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 per cent by 2020

    A last-minute change to the draft increased room for manoeuvre in the climate change goals, including a mention that the targets should be introduced so as to "avoid excessive costs for member states".
     
    Carbon trading

    The plan aims to meet the EU's over-arching goal to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for global warming, by 20 per cent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

    The bloc has committed to go to 30 per cent if other countries agree to match them.

    To achieve that figure, EU states are obliged to make renewable energies, such as solar and wind power the source of 20 per cent of the total energy consumption across the bloc by 2020.

    The current level is just six to seven per cent.

    The blueprint also includes a carbon trading system and a political commitment that biofuels, made from plants, should make up 10 per cent of total vehicle fuel in Europe by 2020.

    'Retaliation'

    Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, and Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, have voiced support for a system whereby levies can be slapped on imports from countries not respecting similar high climate change rules.

    However, several leaders, including Romano Prodi, the outgoing Italian prime minister, warned of "an unending spiral of retaliations," if such a system is introduced for products from China, India or elsewhere.

    Meanwhile, several countries have concerns over their own heavy industry and special interests.

    Guarantees sought

    Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said she wants guarantees for heavy industry, such as steel and cement, in 2009 rather than in 2011 as planned, but said on Friday that so far she had received no concessions from her EU partners.

    The EU's Slovenian presidency said that the total energy scheme should come into effect in early 2009 after all member states have signed up to it.

    The members states want to clinch a deal among themselves so that Europe will be in a strong position to set the standard at international climate warming talks in Copenhagen in November 2009.

    The European leaders also approved a watered-down version of a French scheme for a Mediterranean Union aimed at strengthening cooperation with countries from Morocco to Turkey.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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