Brussels most ambitious in emissions-fighting

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Brussels most ambitious in emissions-fighting

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The fight against global warming features strongly in the plan announced by the European Commission to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the European Union.

Brussels has repeatedly said the United States — the world’s biggest polluter — and other major economies will have to join in to make the fight against climate change successful.

Scientists and insurance planners warn that unchecked human activity could trigger increasingly frequent and violent storms, heat waves, flooding, cold and drought.

The EU executive called on the EU to cut emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, rising to 30 percent if other developed nations join in under an international agreement. That goes beyond an existing EU commitment of eight percent by 2012. Several EU countries are way short of that Kyoto Protocol goal.

The Commission’s report said shutting nuclear reactors would make cutting greenhouse gas emissions harder. Germany has plans to phase out its use of nuclear power but Berlin is reconsidering. Yet President Jose Manuel Barroso reiterated the extent to which these decisions were in the national domain.

He said:

“On the nuclear question, the Commission remains agnostic. What’s important is to move towards weaning the economy off carbon fuels – to make it less and less dependent.”

The Commission also proposed that 20 percent of EU power should come from renewable sources by 2020. The new plan suggests that by then biofuels should account for at least 10 percent of fuel used in vehicles.

Brussels further called for expanding the use of carbon capture and storage technology to help curb emissions.