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NGOs cool on EU climate change targets

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) Jan 23, 2008
Environmental and poverty groups criticised the European Commission's package to fight climate change, announced Wednesday, for being too modest and even posing a threat to the world's poor.

Greenpeace greeted the package revealed by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, as "a good but faltering start" with the "fundamental drawback" of not being ambitious enough.

The measures are designed to put into action the aim set by EU leaders last year to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

The use of renewable energies like biomass, wind and solar power will rise to 20 percent of all energy forms by then. Biofuels will also have to make up 10 percent of fuels used for transport.

Friends of the Earth argued that a 20 percent cut "will not be sufficient to avert dangerous climate change".

"The promising parts of this energy package are overshadowed by a greenhouse gas target that falls well short of what is needed," said the group's climate campaigner Sonja Meister.

Its agrofuels campaign coordinator Adrian Bebb attacked the plan to greatly increase the use of biofuels.

"Growing crops to fuel our thirsty and inefficient cars will be a disaster for the environment and is a false solution to climate change," he said.

"Any claims that biofuels are sustainable will be a sour note for the world's poor who will be forced to pay more for their food".

Greenpeace advocates a 30 percent emissions cut, a figure that the EU has said it is willing to match if other global players agree to do the same thing.

"This package contains a number of progressive elements but one fundamental drawback; its emissions numbers do not yet add up to a 30 percent cut," said Greenpeace's EU climate and energy policy director Mahi Sideriou.

Poverty action group Oxfam said the European Union had "missed a crucial opportunity with its energy package to help the world's poor".

Oxfam argued that while biofuels "could be part of a solution" the costs of the EU's plan outweigh the benefits.

"The EU's headlong rush into biofuels has already caused a big scramble by poor countries keen to cash in," the group said in a statement.

"It is untenable for the European Commission to proceed with this legislation in the knowledge that it is unlikely to deliver on its primary policy objective of reducing emissions from transport," said spokesman Robert Bailey.

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EU threatens trade partners over global warming
Brussels (AFP) Jan 23, 2008
The European Commission brandished the threat on Wednesday of imposing restrictions on imports from countries that fail to follow its lead in tackling global climate change.

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