EU committed to curb global warming

European Union states debated how far they are willing to go to fight climate change.

world Updated:
Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason

European Union states debated how far they are willing to go to fight climate change on Tuesday as the 27-nation bloc forms what could become the world's most ambitious strategy to curb global warming.

A draft statement to be agreed at a meeting of EU environment ministers, obtained by the agency, endorses a plan to cut EU greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

It also says the bloc would be willing to reduce its emissions by 30 per cent by 2020 if other industrialized nations made similar cuts and "economically more advanced" developing countries contributed too.

But officials said Hungary and Poland, which joined the EU in 2004, opposed making the 20 or 30 percent targets mandatory.

They will face pressure to back the EU line, which is likely to form the basis of the bloc's negotiating position for a global agreement to cut emissions after 2012, when the first period covered by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change ends.

"We have to push (them) to remember that they are in the European Union, and they have to accept also that our tradition is to fight against climate change," Italian Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio told reporters.

"At the minimum they have to accept the cut of 20 per cent -- at the minimum," he said.

Finland has also voiced opposition to a unilateral EU target, while Sweden and Denmark feel the bloc should commit to a 30 per cent reduction from the start.

Some states also wanted to discuss using a different base year than 1990 for calculating the emissions cuts.

The draft says EU states would commit to a 30 percent target "provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emissions reductions and economically more advanced developing countries adequately contribute according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities".

The statement said a "differentiated approach" would be needed when distributing the requirements to fulfil the EU's target among the 27 states. It called on the Commission to analyze criteria for how the targets would be divided.

"A differentiated approach to the contributions of the member states is needed reflecting fairness and taking into account national circumstances and the base years of the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol," the draft said.

The 15 "old" EU states that were members before the bloc expanded to 25 nations in 2004 and 27 countries in 2007 have a collective target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent by 2012 compared to 1990 levels.

That overall goal is split up among the 15 states in a burden-sharing agreement, with some having to reduce emissions more than others.

First Published: Feb 20, 2007 16:03 IST