EU leaders agree deal to cut GHG emissions by 2020

12 December 2008 14:44  [Source: ICIS news]

EU leaders agree climate dealPARIS (ICIS news)--EU leaders agreed on Friday a compromise agreement aimed at slashing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2020. 

After two days of talks, leaders agreed a plan that includes concessions to heavy industry and countries in Eastern Europe worried that the cost of curbing pollution would impede economic growth at a time of global recession.

French EU president and chair of the negotiations Nicholas Sarkozy denied the climate package had been watered down.

"The objectives remain the same," said Sarkozy. "No way can the [economic] crisis be used as an excuse not to move on the environment."

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said the proposals were “the most ambitious…anywhere in the world”.

Environmentalists, however, were horrified by parts of the deal and called on the European Parliament to reject the compromise on effort sharing, which sets national emission targets for sectors not included in the EU's emissions trading scheme (ETS) such as transport, buildings and agriculture.

They also criticised the decision to allow the EU to offset almost two thirds of its emissions through projects in developing countries and the refusal by EU leaders to introduce sanctions  to compel countries to meet their national targets.

Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Oxfam and WWF said: “This is a dark day for European climate policy. European heads of state and government have reneged on their promises and turned their backs on global efforts to fight climate change."

“Angela Merkel, Silvio Berlusconi, Donald Tusk and Nicolas Sarkozy should be ashamed," they added. 

"They have chosen the private profits of polluting industry over the will of European citizens, the future of their children and the plight of millions of people around the world. The Parliament can and should amend the worst parts of today’s deal.”

The European Parliament will vote on the deal in its plenary session on 15-17 December.

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By: Philippa Jones
+44 20 8652 3214

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