EU signs-up to ‘groundbreaking’ CO2 targets

The leaders of the European Union have today signed up to binding carbon dioxide targets.

These deals say carbon dioxide emissions must be 20 per cent lower than 1990 levels by 2020, and that 20 per cent of energy must come from renewable sources by the same year.

The new deal goes far beyond the existing Kyoto agreement which has seen many EU countries commit to cutting greenhouse gases to eight per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.

“We have time still to reduce global warming to below two degrees,” said German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“We could avoid what could well be human calamity.”

Tony Blair added: “These are a set of groundbreaking, bold, ambitious targets for the European Union.

“It gives Europe a clear leadership position on this crucial issue facing the world.”

And these targets could well be adopted by countries outside the EU, with the prime minister predicting there was a “good chance” of the US, China and India committing to the deal as well.

Ms Merkel headed the negotiations on the fine print of the package, which includes commitments to see ten per cent of cars and heavy vehicles run on bio fuels and a possible ban on filament light bulbs in offices, street lights and private homes by 2010.

However, while the new accord sets a 20 per cent target for renewable energy, individual targets will be allowed for each of the 27 EU states.

The Liberal Democrats said more should be done.

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell commented: “This is a move in the right direction but Labour’s record on the environment is appalling.

“Carbon dioxide emissions have increased and a new report shows that Britain is unlikely to meet its target to generate ten per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010.

“Summits and targets can only go so far. We need to see action from Tony Blair in areas such as green taxation.”