EU agrees tough greenhouse cuts

Proposed EU-wide greenhouse cuts of 20% by 2020, or 30% if other industrialised nations join in the European effort, received the backing of the Environment Council on Tuesday.

Despite opposition from Poland and Hungary, EU environment ministers agreed to a binding target cut of 20% from 1990 levels, and a 30% cut if other developed countries match the EU goals. German environment minister Sigmar Gabriel said: “So as far as these two objectives are concerned, those are things we agree.”

One point they are yet to come to an agreement on is how much each state is to contribute to the European 20% emission reduction. There is also a question mark over the baseline year, which could be changed for some Eastern European member states.

Eastern European countries argue that, as in 1990 they were just emerging from the communist era and emissions were very low, targets calculated from a 1990 baseline would be particularly severe for them.

A binding EU-wide 30% emission cut by 2020 regardless of the participation of other states received backing from only two states – Sweden and Denmark. Finland expressed doubts over the proposals but did not oppose them.

Campaign group WWF welcomed today’s decision but stressed that Europe must now concentrate on concrete measures to achieve it.

“After the endorsement of a target for renewable energy (20 per cent by 2020) by Energy Ministers last week, today’s decision confirms the EU preparedness to fulfil its international commitments,” said Stephan Singer of the World Wildlife Fund.

“However, to build a house with solid foundations the EU should immediately put in place concrete measures to achieve such targets and have a strategy to both mobilise resources and engage other countries for the period after 2012,” he said.

The proposed greenhouse cuts will now await the 8-9 March EU summit in Brussels for final endorsement.

Goska Romanowicz

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