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EU Agrees to Cut Greenhouse Gases 20pc by 2020

Agence France-Presse in Brussels, SCMP – Updated on Dec 13, 2008

EU leaders reached agreement on an ambitious package to slash greenhouse-gas emissions yesterday, urging US president-elect Barack Obama to follow their lead in the fight against global warming.

But environmentalists promptly panned the agreement, saying too many concessions had been made to industry and to poorer eastern European nations with their highly polluting coal-fired power plants.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at the end of the two-day European Union summit in Brussels: “No continent has given itself such binding rules that we have adopted with unanimity.” Mr Sarkozy chaired the gathering as head of the French EU presidency.

The EU’s climate-energy package, the “20-20-20” deal, seeks to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions 20 per cent by 2020, make 20 per cent energy savings and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 per cent of total energy use.

Mr Sarkozy denied the targets had been watered down with leaders fearing the package would hit energy and jobs as recession bites.

But Greenpeace, WWF and other groups denounced the deal as “a dark day for European climate policy”.

“European heads of state and government have reneged on their promises and turned their backs on global efforts to fight climate change,” they said.

One of their gripes was that the French concessions allowed more “polluting rights” to be given out for free rather than be paid for.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the election of Mr Obama offered a chance for a joint effort between Europe and the US to combat global warming.

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