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EU Planning to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions


The European Union executive branch says it is planning to cut earth-warming greenhouse gas emissions by one-fifth of 1990 levels by the year 2020. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports for VOA the plan coincides with rising European concerns about stable energy imports from Russia.

Drafted by the European Commission - the executive arm of the 27-member European Union - the plan aims to cut emissions through increased reliance on renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and greater energy efficiency.

The draft also includes carbon emissions trading, whereby polluting industries can buy rights or credits to pollute in an overall plan that ultimately reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

EU members are expected to discuss the plan in Brussels later this month.

EU Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso says Europe needs new policies to face a new reality. He says that reality includes estimates by many scientists the earth's temperature will rise as a result of fossil fuel emissions, with potentially devastating consequences.

Expert Simon Tilford of the Center for European Reform in London says the European Union has taken the lead in cutting greenhouse gasses, partly by introducing an ambitious emissions trading scheme.

"I think it is a huge success they have got it up and running, frankly," he said. "But clearly it has been hamstrung by allowing national governments implement their own national allocation plans."

Europe has another reason for pushing energy efficiency and alternative energy: it is the world's largest importer of oil and gas. Much of that oil and gas is imported from Russia, a cause of worry since Moscow's recent pricing dispute with Belarus interrupted supplies to Europe this week.

"I think it is certainly going to force [European] governments to look much more carefully at a mix, and their dependence on various supplies as part of reducing their dependence on supplies [from Russia]," he said.

In Brussels, Barroso called the supply cut unacceptable and said the European Union would make its displeasure clear to Moscow among other countries.

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