The European Union has formally adopted its climate change targets ahead of a UN conference set for December in Paris. But debate continues on how to achieve them.
The European Union on Friday sent its formal promise on how much it plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations after a meeting of the bloc's climate and energy ministers in Brussels.
The targets had already been agreed on informally at an EU summit in October.
"A very important step was taken today," French Energy Minister Segolene Royal told reporters after the talks, describing the move as "a decisive, historic stage."
EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said reaching an agreement had not been "an easy matter."
The bloc called on other big carbon emitters to deliver early pledges on their climate change targets, with preliminary climate talks due to start in November ahead of the December conference.
Countries have until March 31 to submit their pledges to the UN.
The targets pledged by the 28-member EU include a 40-percent cut in emissions by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. The goal has to be achieved within Europe, and not through offsets allowing member states to buy into carbon-cutting schemes outside the continent.
EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say that the reduction in emissions will have to be shared among member states. Reaching agreement on how exactly to distribute the burden is unlikely to be achieved before the Paris talks.
One suggestion has been to split up the reduction according to a respective member state's per capita GDP.
The talks in Paris in December will be aimed at seeking a new worldwide deal on global warming, with climate change caused by carbon emissions being accepted by most scientists as being a grave threat to humankind.
The EU is responsible for nine percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
tj/sms (AFP, Reuters)