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Europe tries Copenhagen charm offensive

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Europe tries Copenhagen charm offensive

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EU leaders are turning up in Copenhagen with various plans, but some come with conditions. They had to deal with differences within their own ranks last week to agree on how much to give developing nations to fight climate change.

A total of 7.2 billion euros is being promised for poor countries over the next three years, before any Copenhagen deal comes into force. Critics, though, say part of that is just a repackaging of previous promises and grants.

But the leaders are also reported to have agreed on a joint diplomatic charm offensive on the fringes of the summit. They are said to be courting some African, Asian and Latin American nations to counter the clout of China and the US.

EU countries say they will aim to cut greenhouse gases by 30 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels, but only if other nations make similar commitments.

All eyes are now on those other countries, including the US, one of the biggest polluters. The recent line from Washington has been: we don’t want to promise what we don’t yet have.

The US is said to have been looking at a cut of 17 percent of greenhouse gases by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. But cuts compared to 1990 levels would only be about four percent. By 2030, the reduction target would be 42 percent.

The other country with a crucial role at the summit is China. French officials say the EU is keen to make sure that Beijing does not become the spokesman for emerging economies.

At the moment China’s plan is to reduce what is being referred to as carbon intensity by between 40 and 45 percent by 2020.

Europe accounts for 13 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 50 percent produced by the US and China.

But even if there is a final agreement in Copenhagen, campaigners are demanding that any possible loopholes be closed, to make sure no country tries to manipulate the figures or carbon credits to get around their commitments.

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