EU Officials Agree To Reduce Carbon Emissions

Tuesday, February 20th 2007, 8:58 am
By: News On 6

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ European environment ministers said Tuesday they would cut overall carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent by 2020, adding that they were ready to go to 30 percent if other industrialized nations matched their efforts.

But the European Union's 27 nations still must agree what each should do to meet a 20 percent target for the entire bloc, with Finland, Spain and Denmark calling on other nations to share the burden.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who led the talks, said Berlin was prepared to go even further, noting that his parliament already had backed a 40 percent cut.

``There will be some countries like Germany that will see a steeper reduction in greenhouse gases,'' he said, while other nations, such as former Soviet bloc countries in eastern Europe, would face lesser reductions as their economies grow and they try to clean up heavy polluting industries and generate more power from lower-carbon sources.

European countries will try to see if other nations will go further when the EU meets with the G-8 nations _ the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada _ in the German resort of Heiligendamm June 6-8. They will also seek carbon dioxide cuts from the emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

President Bush has kept the United States _ by far the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other gases blamed by scientists for global warming _ out of the Kyoto treaty to reduce greenhouse gases, saying it would harm the U.S. economy.

The Bush administration has said it is committed instead to advancing and investing in new technologies to combat global warming. It has set a goal of reducing ``greenhouse gas intensity,'' which measures the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to economic output, by 18 percent by 2012.

Many U.S. states and cities have set target reductions for themselves for emissions of greenhouse gases.

Talks in Brussels will continue later Tuesday to cover other EU initiatives to cut carbon dioxide emissions, such as a mandatory limit on emissions from cars and including aviation in the EU's emissions trading plan.

Gabriel said environment ministers would revisit an attempt by energy ministers to fix a binding 20 percent target for all energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020 but said he did not expect a final decision.

EU leaders meet in March to fix Europe's general strategy to turn itself into a low-carbon economy, weaning itself off imported oil and natural gas, cutting energy consumption, and doing more to combat climate change.