EU to pressure US, emerging countries on climate change

25th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

Eager to take the lead on climate change, the European Union aims to pile pressure on the United States and big emerging countries to sign up to an ambitious strategy to reduce greenhouse gases.

BRUSSELS - Last month European leaders approved an ambitious climate change action plan which the 27-nation bloc hopes will become a model for international negotiations in Copenhagen in December.

"We will do everything to make (Copehagen) a success," European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told reporters on Friday. "The problem is to know whether the others are ready to do what we have been doing."

The European Commission is to unveil on Wednesday a strategy for gradually ramping up investments aimed at tackling climate change to a target of 175 billion euros per year by 2020, including 30 billion euros to help poor countries.

Developed countries would be expected to contribute 95 billion euros to the plan.

Among the sources of finance, the commission recommends making polluters pay for each tonne of carbon dioxide that they emit.

With a price starting at one euro per tonne rising gradually to three euros, the plan would generate about 13 billion euros in 2013 if used in the main developed countries, rising to 28 billion euros by 2020.

In the same strategy paper, obtained by AFP, the commission lays out 200 actions that are not expected to bear a prohibitive cost for reducing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

The measures, which target the energy, agriculture and forestry sectors, would save 39 billion tonnes of CO2 from escaping into the atmosphere by 2020 at a cost of between four to 10 euros per tonne.

EU leaders committed last month to a climate-energy package that would decrease the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, make 20 percent energy savings and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 percent of total energy use.

With four billion tonnes of CO2 a year, the EU generates 14 percent of the 27 billion tonnes that escape into the atmosphere each year.

The United States is the biggest polluter with 5.8 billion tonnes, followed by China with 5.1 billion tonnes.

The EU hopes that it can rally other major polluters behind its approach.

"I think the most important issue for Copenhagen in terms of preparation is to have the Americans on board and afterwards the biggest emerging economies China, India, and Brazil," Barroso said.

"We have to find a consensus with the developing countries."

Barroso said that aides would head to Washington this week to meet their US counterparts.

US President Barack Obama has raised hopes in Europe that he will be more receptive to Europe's arguments than his predecessor, declaring in his inaugural address that the United States will "roll back the specter of a warming planet."

AFP/ Expatica

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