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European Union leaders are cooling on their ambition to fight global warming, leaving a key greenhouse-gas emissions reduction target out of a draft statement prepared for a summit on Friday, internal documents show.

The EU has already pledged to cut emissions to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020, and to deepen the cut to 30 per cent if other rich nations make “comparable” efforts.

But a draft summit declaration on long-term economic planning seen by the German Press Agency dpa sets as the EU’s goal for 2020 “reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels,” with no reference to the 30-per-cent goal.

The draft was drawn up by EU diplomats following consultations between national leaders on Thursday, the first day of the summit.

The declaration deals with the EU’s ambitions for its new 10-year economic plan, which is meant to reverse the bloc’s decline and make it more competitive, innovative and climate-friendly.

It was based on a proposal from the EU’s executive, the European Commission, which said that the bloc’s climate goals “should be met, including an increase to 30 per cent of emissions reduction if the conditions are right.”

The 30-per-cent pledge is one of the EU’s most hotly-debated issues. EU leaders signed up to it in 2007 in a bid to woo other developed and developing nations into setting their own targets.

But EU states are bitterly at odds over the question of whether other states are now doing enough to trigger the 30-per-cent switch.

Some, including Britain and Sweden, are pushing for the EU to move to the 30-per-cent target now, to put pressure on other world powers and stimulate the EU’s low-emissions economy.

But others, such as Poland and Italy, argue that the costs to industry of making such a move would far outweigh the benefits.

The question has already set the commission at loggerheads. The first draft of its proposal contained no reference to the 30-per-cent goal, but the figure was reinstated in the final draft after a fierce struggle between commissioners.

Deutsche Presse Agentur, 26 March 2010