Nations debate EU climate package

EU chiefs have said the organisation's three branches are close to reaching a deal ahead of a key vote on environmental legislation.

The European Parliament, Council and Commission debated the long-awaited climate change and energy package last week ahead of the vote later this month.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said at the end of last week that only a few issues were still outstanding, including what he described as “co-operation mechanisms” and whether to introduce a review in 2014.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said significant progress had been made in the debates and said he was “optimistic of a first-reading agreement”.

However, several countries – including Poland, which is now hosting the UN Climate Change Summit, Italy and Germany – have previously attempted to block the EU’s plans, citing fears that the policies could harm their economies.

On Tuesday, a coalition of environmental groups wrote an open letter to current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy calling on him to convince Germany, Italy and Poland to back the proposed measures.

WWF, die Klima Allianz, from Germany, and French group Reseau Action Climat, said Mr Sarkozy must show “real leadership”.

“At a time when we need Europe to lead, too many EU countries are failing in their responsibilities to address the threat of climate change,” the letter said.

“Inexcusably, several countries are trying to get out of their own climate commitments by pushing for two thirds of their reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to be met by purchasing offset credits from outside the EU.

“If approved, it is possible that EU emissions would barely fall by 2020, with emissions from transport, buildings and agriculture in particular potentially only dropping by 3.5%.”

The EU is expected to vote on the package before Christmas.

Kate Martin

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