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Europe

EU Backs CO2 Trading, Better Driving to Cut Emissions

European Union climate experts briefed Indian scientists near Berlin on an ambitious program to "trade" CO2 emissions. The EU also launched a bloc-wide campaign to promote low-CO2 driving techniques.

Smoke rising from a power plant

Factories that don't modernize will have to pay for their high emissions, say experts

India could benefit for decades on end from a fair CO2 trading scheme, since it could earn income by selling the valuable rights, said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a leading German scientist who works from Potsdam, on Tuesday, May 27.

"If nations like India or China simply copy the development pattern of Europe, the world will end up with an utterly different climate," Schellnhuber warned after the Potsdam talks, attended by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Indian energy and climate experts traveled to Potsdam near Berlin to hear more about the EU proposals. Barroso and scientists had held a similar meeting in April in Beijing with Chinese scientists.

Monetary rewards for low emitters

In carbon trading, rights to pollute are fairly distributed round the world. By freely buying and selling the rights internationally, those who cut emissions obtain a reward by selling their rights, whereas polluters feel the pain financially.

Schellnhuber, who heads the Potsdam Institute for Climate-Impact Research PIK, admitted that factories in India or China which refused to use modern low-carbon technology would lose out: "Companies that refuse to read the signs of the times will end up the losers."

After the meeting Barroso opened a two-day meeting organized by PIK and the group Action for a Global Climate Community on ways for India to achieve sustainable economic development that brings prosperity without damaging the climate.

Careful driving spares CO2, gas costs

Silver Porsche 911

To save gas, watch the traffic and drive in the highest appropriate gear

Also on Tuesday, the European Commission launched a low-petrol driving campaign aimed at further reducing emissions.

A clip on the EU's YouTube site, EUTube, says, "How can we reduce our consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions without having to invest in new technology? A few good habits will help save money, prolong the life of your engine and actively contribute to protecting our planet."

According to the campaign, which is backed by the European Commission and the European Petroleum Industry Association, Europia, habits such as keeping your car's tires at the correct pressure and using air conditioning less can cut fuel consumption by 10 percent.

Simple driving techniques such as anticipating the flow of traffic ahead and keeping engine revolutions down can add further savings, the clip says.

"The name of the game when it comes to consuming less is to reach your cruising speed fairly quickly and then to use the highest gear possible," the clip advises.

In one practice run, a driver who used the techniques on a 10-kilometer drive cut his consumption from 7.3 liters per 100 kilometers (32 miles per gallon) to 4.96 liters per 100 kilometers (47.4 miles per gallon).

Translated into a year's worth of driving 25,000 kilometers (15,500 miles), that would equate to a saving of 875 euros ($1,380), the clip says.

Resistance from auto industry

The EU is committed to significantly reducing its CO2 emissions by 2020 and reducing emissions from the transport industry is seen as key to achieving that goal.

However, plans to force car manufacturers to make their products more environmentally friendly have run into strong opposition, leaving EU officials keen to find other ways of making cuts.

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