Page last updated at 19:42 GMT, Saturday, 6 December 2008

No deal amid EU climate deadlock

Nicolas Sarkozy: 'We shouldn't be afraid of setting ambitious objectives'

France's Nicolas Sarkozy, the current EU president, has failed to break a deadlock with Eastern member states over an ambitious climate change deal.

Mr Sarkozy said there had been progress but that the end had not yet been reached ahead of an upcoming EU summit.

Countries including Poland and the Czech Republic oppose deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions, saying they unfairly penalise their need for coal.

Polish PM Donald Tusk said a compromise would need a lot more hard work.

But Mr Tusk, whose country has previously threatened to veto the deal, did say some progress had been made.

"We are looking for a wise stand for the EU summit," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying after negotiations in the Polish city of Gdansk. "There is still a lot of work ahead of us."

"Things are moving in a good way," Reuters quoted Mr Sarkozy as saying. "I am convinced we will arrive at a positive conclusion."

Global moves

Eastern leaders argue the cuts also do not take account of the lower levels of earnings in their countries.

The EU plan would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2020.

EU 20-20-20 TARGETS
20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
20% increase in use of renewable energy by 2020
20% cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020

While the Poles are leading the opposition to the EU emissions cuts, they are at the same time chairing UN negotiations in the Polish city of Poznan, where they are trying to urge the delegates to accept deep cuts in carbon, BBC environment reporter Matt McGrath says.

Although the talks in Gdansk were not directly related to the meeting in Poznan, they are seen as crucial to maintaining the credibility of Europe's leadership on climate change, our reporter adds.

A new global climate pact is to be signed in Copenhagen in a year's time, succeeding the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which runs out in 2012.

The EU has told the world that if a global deal is done, then the bloc will cut its emissions by 30%.

The EU package, which is under pressure because of fears of the cost of green energy in the middle of a global economic crisis, focuses on three areas: emission cuts, renewable energy sources and energy efficiencies.

France, which hands over the rotating EU presidency to the Czech Republic in January, needs to win the Eastern states' support ahead of an EU summit on 11-12 December.

Mr Sarkozy wants the climate package completely finished before the handover.

Compromise plans

Eastern countries are seeking to soften the blow to their industries and their populations by giving away permits to emit carbon but Brussels wants these permits to be auctioned off to the highest bidder saying that if you give them away for free, you undermine the EU's emissions trading scheme.

Mr Sarkozy was meeting the leaders of Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania and the Czech Republic for lunch.

EU greenhouse gas emissions in 2005

There had been a suggestion that he would agree to a compromise with the Eastern leaders, giving them more time to catch up with the rest of the EU.

Under one compromise being considered, West European plants would have to buy permits to emit every tonne of carbon dioxide they produce from burning fossil fuels from 2013. But the scheme would only be introduced in Eastern Europe from 2016.

Polish Environment Minister Maciej Nowicki rejected as insufficient the French offer of extra time to meet the new climate caps.

"This is one step in the right direction, but not enough," he told Reuters on Friday.

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