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Cold Feet: EU Rethinking Climate Goals

Alessandro Torello, The Wall Street Journal

European policy makers must factor in the impact of the region’s deep financial crisis and stumbling economies as they design climate and energy policies, according to a draft European Union document seen by The Wall Street Journal.

The document signals that the 27-nation bloc may be reining in its ambition to lead the world in tackling climate change.

The paper, whose final version is expected to be published March 27, aims to start a debate ahead of the drafting of the EU climate and energy policy for the decade between 2020 and 2030, of which a first version should be ready by the end of this year.

The paper will look at issues ranging from new binding limits to CO2 emissions to government incentives to promote clean technologies.

While Europe has long pledged to lead from the front on the fight against climate change, hoping to persuade the U.S., China and others to follow suit, the continuing economic malaise in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis has shifted priorities.

With the region still languishing in recession, battling a debt crisis and suffering high unemployment while leading companies in key industrial sectors complaining of the cost of implementing climate change initiatives, the paper from the European Commission, the EU executive, reflects concerns about whether Europe should or can sign up to stringent new carbon emission reduction targets.

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