EU environment ministers agree 20 percent cut in CO2 by 2020

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, AP

EU environment ministers said Tuesday that they would cut overall carbon dioxide emissions 20 percent by 2020 and were ready to go to 30 percent if other industrialized nations would match European efforts to curb global warming.

But the EU’s 27 nations are still to agree what each should do to meet a 20 percent target for the entire bloc, with Finland, Spain and Denmark calling on other nations to share the burden.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who led the talks, said his country was prepared to go even further, saying the German parliament had already backed a 40 percent cut.

“There will be some countries like Germany that will see a steeper reduction in greenhouse gases,” he said, while other nations, such as former Soviet bloc countries in eastern Europe would face lesser reductions as their economies grow and they try to clean up heavy polluting industries and generate more power from lower-carbon sources.

European countries will try to see if other nations will go further when it meets G-8 nations — the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada — in the German resort of Heiligendamm June 6-8. They will also seek CO2 cuts from the emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

Talks will continue later Tuesday to cover other EU initiatives, including a mandatory limit on CO2 emissions from cars and whether to include aviation in the EU’s emissions trading program.

Gabriel said environment ministers would revisit an attempt by energy ministers to fix a binding 20 percent target for all energy to be generated from renewable sources by 2020, but said he did not expect a final decision.

EU leaders meet in March to fix Europe’s general strategy to turn itself into a low-carbon economy, weaning itself off imported oil and natural gas, cutting energy consumption and doing more to combat climate change.