EU split over size of emissions cut

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The Independent Online

A damaging east-west split has opened up among EU countries over how quickly and deeply they should cut their carbon emissions to combat climate change.

At a two-day summit in Brussels which began last night, EU leaders were also divided about how much they should contribute to a global fund to help developing countries slow the growth in their emissions and switch to low-carbon industries.

Gordon Brown wants the EU to raise its commitment to reduce its emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020 to 30 per cent. But other EU leaders say they should not "jump first" and should wait to see what others offer at the summit in Copenhagen discussing a global deal on climate change. EU leaders may call a special meeting in Copenhagen to finalise their position as the summit reaches its climax next week.

Sweden , France and Germany back Britain's plan to raise the bar higher in order to put pressure on the rest of the world. But Poland and some other central and eastern-European states strongly oppose the move. Their industries are still heavily dependent on polluting fossil fuels such as coal.

Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Poland's EU affairs minister, said a decision to move to a higher target at Copenhagen "cannot be made on political grounds". He said it should be agreed at the summit of EU leaders in March next year after an assessment by the European Commission.

One diplomat said: "There is a big division between the east and the west. The eastern-European countries feel they are being pressured into committing to something they cannot afford when western capitals really want to go as far as possible. But we will have to offer a lot of sweeteners to get our eastern members on board."

EU leaders also haggled over the Union's contribution to a global "adaptation and mitigator" fund for developing nations. Britain has offered €300m (£271m) a year for three years and France and Germany are expected to pay similar amounts. But some smaller EU members are reluctant to pay up.

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