December 17, 2008

EU Agrees To Bills Aimed At Fighting Global Warming

The European Union on Wednesday agreed to a package of bills to enable EU governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020.

European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said he looks forward to the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of President-elect Barack Obama's term.

"Happily Bush is going," said Dimas. "Everybody knows what Mr. Obama has set as priorities -- energy security and climate change."

World leaders will meet in Copenhagen next December to try to agree a global deal, but preparatory talks in Poland ended last week with deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

EU lawmakers decided on Wednesday to cut CO2 emissions from new cars by 18 percent by 2015, despite arguments from lobbyists.

"There was an explosion in dissent and manufacturers were at loggerheads," said Italian socialist Guido Sacconi, who led the rules for cars through parliament.

"Trying to secure a conclusion came when the car industry found itself at the epicenter of the economic crisis and this heightened difficulties," he added.

The new provisions will amount in an average of 11 percent reduction of carbon-dioxide allowances for electricity, steel, paper and other industries.

The EU assembly also endorsed adding the aluminum and chemical industries to the system, which requires companies that exceed their emission quotas to buy permits from businesses that emit less.

The biggest obstacle to the deal was opposition from nine former communist nations, who were wary of the deal for fear of raising costs for coal-fired power sectors.

The EU responded by offering a partial exemption and agreed to give them 12 percent of revenues from the EU's flagship emissions trading scheme (ETS), which makes industry buy permits to pollute.


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