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Germany And France Cool On EU’s Unilateral Climate Proposals

France and Germany on Tuesday gave a less than warm response to the EU Commission’s suggestion that Europe unilaterally binds itself to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020.

The message from German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle and French Industry Minister Christian Estrosi came on the eve of the publication of a commission paper laying out the reasons in favour of deepening Europe’s emission cuts from 20 percent, the current agreed rate, to 30 percent compared with 1990 levels.

“We have shared our concerns at the commission’s proposal,” said Estrosi.

“The European Union is ready to adopt the 30 percent figure if other major economies make comparable undertakings,” the French minister added, reprising the current agreement which was on the table, but unaccepted, at last December’s world climate talks in Copenhagen.

“We have the same analysis,” Bruederle said at a joint press conference.

“We believe that after the failure of the Copenhagen summit, we must give ourselves a bit more time,” before offering any further unilateral cuts in emissions, he added.

In its paper, a copy of which was seen by AFP, the EU’s executive arm argues that “both the international context and the economic analysis suggest that the EU is right to continue preparing for a move to a 30 percent target.”

“An EU target of 20 percent by 2020 is not enough to put emissions onto the rights path” to reach the overall goal of keeping global warming below two degrees celsius, the paper stresses.

Its call must yet be backed by both the member states and the European parliament.

While the initiative is getting an enthusiastic response from the Green lobby, industrialists aren’t happy.

Until the rest of the industrialised world guarantees 30 percent cuts “our opinion is that the EU should not move unilaterally to further targets” said Axel Eggert, spokesman for the Eurofer iron and steel federation.

Otherwise an unwanted side-product will be “carbon leakage” where jobs and emissions move from a highly regulated region to one with more lax rules and targets, he argued.

AFP, 25 May 2010