EU reaches greenhouse gas deal

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Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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European leaders have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 28-nation bloc to at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.

The deal is aimed at countering climate change and setting an example for the rest of the world ahead of key international climate negotiations next year.

A package agreed by leaders at an EU summit in the early hours of today after lengthy negotiations also requires climate-friendly, renewable energy to provide at least 27% of the bloc’s needs and demands that energy efficiency increase by at least 27%in the next 16 years.

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy called the deal “ambitious and balanced”.

“It was not easy, not at all, but we managed to reach a fair decision,” Mr Van Rompuy said. “It sets Europe on an ambitious yet cost-effective climate and energy path.”

The decision makes the EU the first major economy to set post-2020 emissions targets ahead of a global climate pact that is supposed to be adopted next year in Paris. Other countries including the US and China are bound to be measured against the EU goals as they present their own emissions targets.

“This agreement keeps Europe firmly in the driving seat in international climate talks ahead of the Paris summit next year,” EU Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso said.

But environmental activists said it fell short of what the bloc should have done.

Joris den Blanken of Greenpeace called it a “very modest” package. “It will mean a slowdown in clean energy development in Europe,” he said.

The pact came after strong opposition from Poland and other poorer eastern European nations which would struggle to fund the necessary changes.

Poland argued that pace of change was too fast for eastern European countries that are trying to grow their economies as they restructure old, energy-dependent industries.

Almost 90% of Poland’s electricity comes from coal. The nation intends to continue that way for decades because mining creates 100,000 direct jobs and many thousands more in related sectors. Warsaw argues that green energy, large wind farms and solar panels still create energy that is too expensive.

Mr Van Rompuy said poorer EU member states would get help reaching the targets. He pledged “extra support for lower-income countries, both through adequate targets and through additional funds to help them catch up in their clean-energy transition”.

Published: Friday 24th October 2014 by The News Editor

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