Miliband throws down challenge on emission cuts

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has issued a new challenge to governments to match Europe's offer to cut CO2 emissions by 30 per cent.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband has issued a new challenge to governments to match Europe's offer to cut CO2 emissions by 30 per cent.

He was speaking after formal confirmation by the European Commission of the EU's pledge to reduce unilaterally overall emissions by 20 per cent compared with 1990 levels by 2020, coupled with the conditional offer to increase the figure to 30 per cent if other major polluting countries do the same,

Under the so-called Copenhagen Accord reached at fraught climate change talks last month, all participating nations signing on for a global deal must notify the scale of their contributions by January 31.

Miliband said: "Today's decision to keep the offer to move to 30 per cent demonstrates the EU's commitment to maintaining a strong signal to the world on the urgency to act on climate change.

"The goal of moving to 30 per cent has always been and remains conditional on others showing similar ambition. We must now continue to push for bold cuts in emissions beyond the 31st deadline."

Miliband added: "The Copenhagen Accord was an important step forward but we now need to redouble efforts to secure the legally binding treaty, and complete the unfinished business of Copenhagen"

EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said: "The EU is determined to move ahead rapidly with implementing the Copenhagen Accord in order to make progress towards the agreement that we need to hold global warming below 2°C.

"The Accord provides a basis on which to build this future agreement and I therefore urge all countries to associate themselves with it and notify ambitious emission targets or actions for inclusion, as we are doing."

The Copenhagen Accord was put together on the last day of the UN climate change conference in December.

It was endorsed by leaders of 28 developed and developing countries and the European Commission, representing the 27 EU nations - between them accounting for 80 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The next round of UN climate change negotiations will take place in May.

Meanwhile, EU leaders will use an economic summit in Brussels on February 11 to "assess the post-Copenhagen situation", said a Commission statement.

Tonight Greenpeace said the EU had missed a chance to regain international leadership of climate change policy by "failing to increase its commitment to cut greenhouse gases, preferring instead to simply re-hash its existing pledges".

Greenpeace EU climate policy director Joris den Blanken said: "The only way the EU can exert any international leverage is if it increases its domestic emissions target to 30 per cent.

"The EU misleadingly flaunts its 20 per cent emissions target as a climate gold standard, while in fact it's only half of what is needed. Science requires that we do more, technology shows us that we can do more and economics predicts that we will benefit if we make the effort."

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