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EU set deadline to agree climate goals

Wednesday, March 19 16:56:37

European Union leaders are preparing to set an October deadline for agreeing on the bloc's 2030 climate and energy goals, a draft document seen by Reuters shows.

At a meeting this Thursday and Friday, according to the draft, "The European Council will take stock of progress made on these issues at its meeting in June ... with a view to taking a final decision on the new policy framework as quickly as possible and no later than October 2014."

Business and governments have been split on whether leaders should make an early agreement on plans for 2030 in the run-up to global talks on tackling climate change.

The European Commission, the EU executive, in January outlined a binding 2030 goal to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent compared with 1990 levels. The bloc has almost met its 2020 target of a 20 percent reduction.

Environment ministers from 13 member states including Germany, France and Britain have urged EU leaders to agree on a position in order to pile pressure on other powers to ready their own plans ahead of negotiations late next year on a global climate pact to take effect from 2020.

But EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, have for months played down the chances of an agreement before June. Poland and other east European countries with heavy reliance on carbon-intensive coal want to wait until China and the United States unveil their proposals, which all nations have agreed must be ready by April 2015.

The summit this week will call on the Commission, the EU executive, to do further analysis on how the 2030 goal will impact each member state and design policies that "result in fair-effort sharing", according to the latest draft for the summit, dated March 19.

Scientists and environmental campaigners have urged the bloc to continue its leadership in tackling climate change to ensure that global temperature rises are kept below the 2 degree Celsius level that U.N.-backed scientists say is needed to prevent a huge increase in droughts, flooding and rising sea levels.

They want the European Union to agree on its 2030 goals ahead of a September meeting in New York convened by U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, who aims to catalyse support among world leaders for the climate pact.