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Belgium is EU ‘environment laggard’

Published on 15/07/2004

15 July 2004

BRUSSELS – Belgium is trailing behind other EU countries in the fight against climate change, it emerged on Thursday.

EU Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom criticised Belgium for allowing a 0.5 percent rise in CO2 emissions in 2002 while levels were falling in the rest of the European Union.

Writing in Le Soir newspaper, Wallstrom confirmed that the other 14 EU nations reduced levels by 0.5 percent in the same year.

From 1990 to 2002, Belgium saw a 2.1 percent rise in harmful emissions when it should have been aiming for its national goal to reduce the level by 7.5 percent by 2012, under the terms of the Kyoto Treaty.

Wallstrom condemned certain lobby groups for being “irresponsible” when it came to tackling global warming.

The commissioner targetted her criticism specifically at the influential industrial lobby group, UNICE, which has questioned the very basis of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

It was easy to criticise Kyoto and not come up with concrete and viable alternatives, she said.

European industry should see the protocol as an opportunity and not as a threat, Wallstrom argued.

The EU remained on the right path to achieving the Kyoto goal of reducing harmful emissions by 8 percent by 2012, said the commissioner.

But she pointed to vast disparities between countries at the forefront of climate change, such as Germany and the UK, and Greece, Spain and Portugal, where little progress had been made.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news