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EU leaders move on climate, recession and Lisbon

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EU leaders move on climate, recession and Lisbon

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Europe has proudly adopted the strictest rules in the world to reduce carbon emissions and get smart with energy. Although green groups were horrified at the exemptions granted to push the deal through, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “This is quite historic.” He and the other EU leaders at a summit in Brussels also agreed on concessions aimed at getting the Irish to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty. “The process is relaunched,” Sarkozy said. “The Irish will be consulted once again. We have all decided that if the Lisbon Treaty is ratified by all the member states, each one will have a Commissioner.”

The climate pact comes with exemptions, to avoid hurting European industries. To cushion the impact on nine eastern European countries, notably Poland – highly dependent on coal – the EU’s emissions trading scheme will subsidise the modernisation of their power sectors. Otherwise, they argued, the curbs’ rebound on consumers would be devastating. Sarkozy said: “A country like Poland, with 38 million people, 95 percent reliant on coal… if we didn’t give the country a chance to spread the effort out over time, Poles would face a two-to-three-hundred percent rise in electricity prices. That’s not possible. That’s not socially acceptable.” The easterners’ power sectors will only pay for a portion of their emissions quotas starting in 2013, rising to 100 percent in 2020. Britain secured more funding to research burying carbon in old gas fields. National economic stimulus plans totalling 200 billion euros got the green light, some of that from EU funds, plus five billion for the car sector.