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EU to scrap greenhouse gas targets

Seeks new global agreement after 2012

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The EU will not set targets for lowering greenhouses gases after the first period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, an EU executive Commission report has revealed. Instead, it will focus on bringing the US and other nations into the damage limitation fold. The US refused to ratify the Kyotot Protocol which which aims by 2008-12 to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from developed nations by 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels.

According to Reuters, the Commission's immediate concerns are energy efficiency and addressing aviation and maritime pollution. Its overall plan is to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and, after 2012, it will lobby the US to support a new international anti-warming initiative. The report notes: "The reduction commitments that the EU would be willing to take under such a regime should depend on the level and type of participation of other major emitters. Therefore, the Commission is not recommending the adoption of a specific EU target at this stage."

The EU's long-term plan to get the US on side this week received a boost when Tony Blair said that Washington "wants to start discussing measures to combat climate change and may sign up to an agreement on the issue this year".

In the meantime, the EU is calculating the cost in hard cash of its recently-introduced environmental controls which limit the amount of CO2 industrial plants can emit while allowing them to trade the allowances that give them the "right to pollute". The Commission reckons that "cutting the bloc's [EU's] emissions annually by roughly 1.5 percentage points after 2012 would reduce GDP in 2025 by about 0.5 percent below the level it would reach in the absence of such a proactive climate policy."

However, if the EU were to "unilaterally reduce its emissions by a similar amount while the rest of the world did nothing, the costs could rise by a factor of three or more," the Commission warned.

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