From: Associated Press
Published February 20, 2007 12:00 AM

EU Environment Ministers Try to Agree to 20 Percent Cut in CO2 by 2020

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- EU environment ministers will Tuesday try to agree they should cut greenhouse gas emissions at least 20 percent by 2020, paving the way for Europe to seek deeper reductions from other industrialized nations.

But the EU's 27 nations may be forced to delay a final decision until a March summit of EU leaders because Poland and Hungary threaten to veto a deal making the target mandatory, an EU diplomat said under condition of anonymity because no decision has yet been taken.

The European Commission said reducing carbon dioxide by 20 percent below 1990 levels is just a starting point and it would be ready to go up to 30 percent if other regions join in.

The goal was needed to "focus minds that otherwise would not be quite so focused," the diplomat said.

But the two former Soviet bloc countries have grown rapidly in the last decade and fear that the target means steeper cuts for them. They both generate electricity from their own coal and changing to other forms of power would mean heavy investment.

Talks between environment ministers will also cover other recent initiatives to cut greenhouse gases as the EU executive seeks their support to push on with tabling draft rules: a binding target for the car industry to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, and a plan to include aviation in Europe's emission trading scheme.

They will also vote to remove a Hungarian ban on a type of genetically modified maize -- and are likely to approve the EU-wide sale of a carnation engineered with petunia genes to turn it a pale violet blue.

Source: Associated Press

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