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EU calls for global carbon market

Patnow power plant near Konin, Poland - 3/12/2008
EU emissions cuts are not matched elsewhere in the world

The European Commission has called for a global carbon trading market as part of a plan to tackle climate change.

The EU is already committed to expanding its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), but now it is urging other industrialised countries to join in.

The commission says that by 2015 it wants to link the ETS to other carbon trading systems. The goal is to include emerging economies by 2020.

A UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December is to strive for a deal.

The commission proposals presented on Wednesday are designed as the EU's contribution to the UN debate, with the aim of getting a new global pact on measures to tackle climate change.

EU 20/20/20 TARGETS
20% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, compared with 1990 levels
20% increase in use of renewable energy by 2020
20% cut in energy consumption through improved energy efficiency by 2020

The pact would be a successor to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which was not ratified by the US, the world's biggest per capita polluter.

The commission, which draws up EU legislation, wants poorer developing countries to put in place plans to cut greenhouse gases.

It says that to cut emissions, more investment will be needed globally - rising to as much as 175bn euros (162bn) annually by 2020.

More than half of that investment will be needed in developing countries, the commission says.

Kim Carstensen, a climate specialist with the conservation group WWF, said the EU should "concentrate on what Europe should do if it wants to reclaim the reputation of leading in the fight against climate change".

In December the European Parliament backed a package of EU measures to combat global warming, including a pledge to cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels.

But critics said concessions made to some industrial sectors would lessen the package's long-term impact.

Scientists say carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut by 25-40% by 2020 for there to be a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

The EU aims to boost its use of renewable sources to 20% of total energy use and achieve a 20% cut in energy consumption by 2020.

The EU's ETS system for trading CO2 allowances was launched in 2005. It covers heavy industry and big power plants, but gradually more sectors will be included.

Mr Carstensen of WWF said emissions trading initiatives ought to be supplemented by "measures such as emissions performance standards for Europe's power stations". He said California had shown the way, and "Europe will increasingly be presented with the choice to follow suit or be left behind".

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