European Environment Ministers have agreed in principle to set a legally binding target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it would be a 20 percent reduction on 1990 levels. He went further, indicating the bloc would be willing to reduce emissions by 30 percent, if other industrialised nations made similar cuts.
The announcement looks set to form the basis of the EU’s negotiating position for a global agreement to cut emissions after 2012, when the first period covered by the Kyoto Protocol on climate change ends.
However some of 27 ministers are keener that others, Hungary and Poland, which joined the union in 2004, oppose making the targets mandatory.
Both countries have grown rapidly in the last decade and fear the target would mean steeper cuts.
The two former Soviet bloc countries still generate electricity from their own coal and changing to other forms of power would mean heavy investment.