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European authorities are launching a new programme to investigate ways that the continent can reduce its greenhouse emissions, and adapt to the effects of climate change.

The second European Climate Change Programme kicks off today at a conference in Brussels. One of the main aims will be to advocate for a "meaningful global climate change regime" post 2012, when the Kyoto Protocol expires.

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said that recent extreme weather events around the world "are consistent with scientific findings about the effects of our changing climate". He said it was high time new measures for combating climate change were developed, to bring emissions below the targets set in the Kyoto protocol.

The programme is set to focus on "new cost-effective measures and technologies that will allow the EU to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions", the Commission said in a press release.

Areas of particular interest will include passenger road transport and aviation. The programme will also have working groups examining the field of geological carbon capture and storage, and on how Europe might adapt to the effects of climate change that cannot be avoided.

The emphasis on developing new technologies to reduce emissions, rather than imposing restrictions on homes and businesses is broadly in line with the US' publicly stated views on the subject.

The UK's minister for climate change and the environment, Elliot Morely, will also be speaking at the conference. Morely said in late September that he favours investment in so-called clean fossil fuels over a return to nuclear power. ®

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