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Curbing Climate Change

DW staff (jg)
January 12, 2008

The European Commission will unveil a controversial climate package this month which will set greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy targets for the coming years.

a forest of wind turbines
The EU would like to see more wind, wave and solar power generationImage: AP

The German press agency dpa is reporting that the latest draft text states that member states will be asked to cut the EU's overall greenhouse gas emissions by "at least 20 per cent" compared to 1990 levels by 2020.

Environmentalists have already attacked targets of this magnitude, which were agreed by EU leaders meeting last March, as being too lenient.

Member states' individual target levels are still under discussion. But richer countries will be asked to contribute more than poorer countries, according to the draft text.

"Member state reduction efforts should be based on the principle of solidarity between member states and the need for sustainable economic growth across the community, taking into account the relative per capita GDP of member states," it states.

Targets modified according to income

power plant with smoke and steam rising from chimneys
Carbon trading will be allowed under the draft schemeImage: AP

Countries with a relatively low per capita gross domestic product and whose economies are expected to grow would actually be permitted to increase their greenhouse emissions compared to 2005. This is the last year for which the latest available verified emission data is available.

More prosperous EU countries would, however, be forced to cut their emissions. To ensure fairness, the text further states that "no country should be required to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to more than 20 per cent below 2005 levels."

But equally the package states that, "no country should be allowed to increase its greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 to more than 25 per cent above 2005 levels." However, an explanatory memorandum to the text puts this figure at 20 per cent instead.

Under the plans, countries would be allowed to allowed to buy emission credits from abroad to help meet their targets, or sell their unused quotas.

The package, which still requires approval by the European Parliament and member states, also stipulates that renewable energy sources must make up a 20-per-cent share of energy consumption and that biofuels should account for at least 10-per-cent of transport fuel by 2020.

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