EU States Split on 30% CO2 Cuts

European Union member states are divided over the bloc's pledge to raise its CO2 commitment up to a 30 percent cut by 2020 in the wake of the Copenhagen UN climate summit debacle.

Environment ministers from across the bloc over the weekend met in Seville, Spain, to assess the reasons for the failure in the Danish capital in December and to map out the EU's next moves.

As part of the so-called Copenhagen Accord cobbled together by the US, China, South Africa, Brazil and India outside the UN process, the 30-odd signatories to the document are to submit their greenhouse gas reduction pledges by the end of January.

But it appears unlikely that the EU will move to the upper end of a 20-30 percent range before this deadline, given the limited reduction commitments made by other major emitters. The US has said it will commit to a 17 percent reduction, but only on 2005 levels, which is equivalent to just a three to four percent cut using the same 1990 baseline as Brussels.

EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas conceded that there was no unanimity around the table.

Some countries had never been in favour of the move to a 30 percent cut, but after the UN climate conference in December ended acrimoniously, with rich countries pitted bitterly against their poorer counterparts and without an official result in which other major emitters had committed to significant emissions reductions, such a jump has become even more controversial.

The UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Spain, currently holding the EU's six-month rotating presidency, all back a jump to 30 percent, while Italy and Poland remain set dead against such a move.

"We definitely think we should maintain the 30 percent offer. We think it is very, very important. It has always been a conditional offer but it is a very important signal that it is maintained," UK energy and climate minister Ed Miliband told reporters.

French environment minister Jean-Louis Borloo added: "It is not a question of going to 30 percent blindly. Nobody would accept that. We will go to 30 percent depending on the commitments that are published."

Italy and Poland fear costs for domestic industry and households will be raised sharply without similar commitments by other powers, however.

As a compromise position, Belgium has suggested a move to a reduction pledge of 25 percent.

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