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European Parliament endorses EU climate change package
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European Parliament on Wednesday gave its backing to a climate change package aimed at reducing the European Union (EU)'s greenhouse gas emissions and boosting energy efficiency.

All six legally-binding texts on the package, which had been approved by EU heads of state and government at their summit, were passed by a large majority of the members of the house.

The measures are aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared with the 1999 levels, raising energy efficiency by 20 percent and having 20 percent of EU's energy produced from renewable sources, both by 2020.

The six texts cover revisions to the EU's emissions trading system, the distribution among member states of the reduction effort outside of the emissions trading system, carbon capture and storage, emissions from cars and fuel quality.

The European Commission, which proposed the measures, welcomed the approval from the European Parliament, which marks the end of the so-called co-decision procedure.

Wednesday's vote made an important contribution to an ambitious international climate agreement which is to be reached in Copenhagen by the end of 2009, said the commission.

"The EU's climate and energy package is part of the solution both to the climate crisis and to the current economic and financial crisis. It represents a green 'new deal' which will enhance the competitiveness of EU industry in an increasingly carbon-constrained world," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

"Today's decisive votes send a clear signal to our international partners about our determination to address climate change and should convince them to follow our example," said Stavros Dimas, EU Environment Commissioner.

The WWF, however, said the deal is far from being sufficient as it allows EU polluters to buy credits from a third country.

"The 20-percent target sounds nice in words, but is void because EU countries are allowed to accomplish approximately three quarters of the effort outside EU borders, which translates into European emission reduced by only 4 to 5 percent between now and 2020," said Delia Villagrasa, senior advisor to WWF.

"The deal is not sufficient to confront the climate change challenge, nor to comply with the EU's stated objective to keepglobal warming below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels," said the WWF  through its Brussels-based European Policy Office.

"On the contrary, if the entire world behaved like the EU, the planet would be well on its way to losing Greenland's ice sheet, with many cities threatened by sea level rise," it added.

The WWF called on EU countries to undertake maximum reductions domestically and not to use external credits, saying that with strong regulations on energy efficiency and renewable energy the 20-percent reduction target is easily achievable within the borders of the EU.

(Xinhua News Agency December 18, 2008)

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