The European Union head office proposed plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012 on Wednesday, arguing that environmental protection need not come at the expense of economic growth if countries work together.
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Union head office proposed plans for curbing greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012 on Wednesday, arguing that environmental protection need not come at the expense of economic growth if countries work together.
With its proposal the European Commission became the first region in the world to announce a post-Kyoto strategy, underscoring its role as a global leader in environmental protection. The 25-nation bloc will present its plans to U.S. President George W. Bush during his Feb. 22 visit to Brussels.
"Without strong political leadership we can't win this battle," said EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "We must act now."
The EU played a major part in getting Kyoto off the ground -- a difficult task after the United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, pulled out of the treaty in 2001. The United States said the agreement would hurt its industry and hinder economic growth.
Washington favors voluntary agreements with industry over binding targets, and is investing billion of dollars into new climate-friendly technologies.
The EU also wants to encourage rapidly emerging economies, such as China and India, to play an active role because although emissions per capita in these countries are lower than in the West, the large size of their pollution coupled with economic growth will make them bigger polluters than the United States and Europe together in the coming decades.
"Fighting climate change is not a matter of choice, but a matter of necessity, said EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. "We will continue to lead by example, but we will also continue to pressure hard for all of our international partners to come on board."
Within Europe new incentives, such as tax breaks, for the development and uptake of new climate-friendly technologies are being considered. The EU Commission also wants to increase -- by an unspecified amount -- money invested in research and development. Moreover, the replacement of old power plants, transport systems and buildings also should be guided by green principles.
The EU believes emissions from airplanes and shipping need to be addressed both in Europe and abroad. They are currently outside the Kyoto rules because some governments feared that applying pollution targets to transport could hinder the development of global trade, hurting economic growth and jobs.
The EU says the costs associated with curbing emissions are manageable for the world's economies, providing they act together. Reducing emissions by around 1.5 percent a year in the EU after 2012 would shave a total of 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent off growth by 2025, the Commission says.
EU leaders will debate the Commission's proposal at a summit in Brussels in March.
Source: Associated Press