Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Friday, 14 March 2008

EU set to agree emission cut plan

EU leaders talk as they gather for photograph during Brussels summit
Climate change has dominated the spring summit

European leaders meeting in Brussels are set to endorse binding measures for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Slovenia's PM, who is chairing the summit, said the leaders had approved a timetable to implement an agreed 20% cut by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

He likened the EU's plans to move to a low-carbon economy to a "third industrial revolution".

The summit is also discussing financial instability, as well as liberalisation of the bloc's energy markets.

Slovenian PM Janez Jansa said the leaders had taken note of a report by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warning of potential security concerns arising from global warming.

The report says climate change will have a growing impact on global security, multiplying existing threats such as shortages of food and water.

It warns that climate change could cause millions of people to migrate towards Europe as other parts of the world suffer environmental degradation.

Drax Power Station near Selby, UK 09/12/05
AIM: 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
AIM: Reduction in energy imports, saving money and increasing energy security
AIM: World leadership in renewable energy technology
CHALLENGE: Government and companies may try to weaken their emissions targets
CHALLENGE: Some countries likely to find renewables targets too ambitious
CHALLENGE: Wrangles likely over technicalities of emissions trading

Mr Solana's report "enjoyed a lot of support", Mr Jansa told reporters.

The EU leaders are considering specific targets put forward by the European Commission in January on how to achieve the agreed 20% cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020.

The BBC's Paul Kirby in Brussels says an important barometer for the success of the summit is how far the leaders are prepared to go in implementing those targets.

The liberalisation of energy markets is another contentious issue, our correspondent says.

Germany and France lead a group of countries hostile to calls for the break-up of big energy companies which run both power stations and the distribution networks.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said there was a general understanding that a European energy market was linked to having a secure supply and promoting renewable energy.

'Med club'

Meanwhile a UK proposal to cut sales tax on "green" goods is unlikely to succeed.

The idea put forward by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown would cover such products as low-energy light bulbs.

Mr Barroso said some countries did not agree with the idea which he described as "a very sensitive issue".

He went on to say that he did not want to dismiss the importance of positive discrimination for such products, but alternatives such as rebates might be more suitable.

The EU will not acknowledge that they need to take responsibility for pollution they created over the last 100 years
Rohit Vashist, Delhi, India

EU leaders are also discussing the turmoil in financial markets.

They are expected to say that the European economy could ride out the current instability, as well as a downturn in the US.

Mr Barroso said it was clear that people felt it was yet "another reason not to allow complacency, but on the contrary to pursue the modernisation of the European economy".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived at the talks having secured support from Germany for a watered-down proposal for a Mediterranean Union.

His aim is to forge closer ties between European countries bordering the Mediterranean and those beyond Europe, including Israel, Algeria and Tunisia.

The main objection to what some have dubbed "Club Med" was the cost, but there have also been complaints that a Euro-Mediterranean partnership already exists.

The compromise appears to be an "upgrade" on what already exists and hopes for its success have been carefully lowered.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2018 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific