December 12, 2008
Europe Starts Plan To Fight Climate Change Amid Criticism
Europe created the world's strongest contract to fight global warming Friday, after aiding several European states in paying for alterations that will penalize heavily polluters.
The widespread economic predicament had posed a problem to the European Union's ideas to reduce carbon dioxide by a fifth in 2020, but innumerable compromises let them pinpoint an overall deal among criticism from environmentalists.
"This is quite historic," said French President Nicolas Sarkozy. "You will not find another continent in this world that has given itself such binding rules.
The deal inspires hope for many that when Barack Obama assumes the U.S. presidency in January, the U.S. will create a similar plan.
"Our message to our global partners is... Yes, you can do what we are doing...especially to our American partners," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "We are asking him (Obama) to join Europe and with us lead the world."
However, environmental groups insist that in their haste to come to a deal, European leaders gave numerous allowances to industries.
"This is a flagship EU policy with no captain, a mutinous crew and several gaping holes in it," said Sanjeev Kumar of environment pressure group WWF.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi scrapped with industries like German steel, chemicals and cement and Italian glass, ceramics and paper.
They were successful earlier this year in refusing to balk on a deal to curb emissions from the dominant auto sector.
"We demanded 15 things -- we got practically all, and we are very satisfied," Berlusconi noted.
The biggest hazard to Friday's deal was the resistance of nine former communist countries, which worried that the deal would increase costs for their coal power sectors.
To get their backing, funding will be given to them from the 12 percent of revenues that the EU's flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS) that makes in mandatory that industries purchase permits to pollute.
The money is acknowledgment for the huge drop in emissions when their industry buckled in the wake of communism.
Diplomats unenthusiastically commended the negotiating skills of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Britain's Gordon Brown also boosted funding for pioneering technology that captures and buries emissions from power stations underground.
"The sum that is involved is very considerable," he stated. "A few weeks ago people were saying it was going to be impossible."
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