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EU perseveres with climate plan despite rival protests

The European Commission will spell out next week, over the din of protests, how it intends to cut greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change.

At stake, as Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday, is Europe's credibility in claiming to lead the world in the fight against global warming.

European Union leaders agreed last March to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in 2020 from 1990 levels, as well as use renewable sources for 20% of power production and biofuels for 10% of transport fuel by the same date.

The Brussels executive will propose next Wednesday how to share the burden of cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) output and of increased use of renewables such as solar, wind and water power and biomass. It will also unveil a major reform of the European Union's emissions trading system (ETS).

“Our package next week is a demonstration of our willingness to put our money where our mouth is,” Barroso told the European Parliament, reacting to a torrent of letters of special pleading or protest from governments and industry lobby groups.

Despite the noise, officials say the EU is well on its way to meeting the targets.

However, green campaigners say they are insufficient to arrest global warming and lack ambition, falling below the 25%-40% emissions cut by industrialized nations called for by a UN climate change conference in Bali, Indonesia, last month.

“Coming up with just a 20% proposal goes against both the scientific advice on what is needed to prevent a climate crisis and the moral obligation entered into in Bali,” said Stefan Singer of the environmental campaign group WWF.

“It would give a very bad signal to the rest of the world.” (chinadaily)