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Climate: EU throws down gauntlet to big emitters

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Climate: EU throws down gauntlet to big emitters

Photo © V. ZHURAVLEV - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - European Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Sunday threw down the gauntlet to major carbon emitters after a UN panel pointed to options to brake surging greenhouse gases in line with global ambitions.

"The report is clear: there really is no plan B for climate change. There is only plan A: collective action to reduce emissions now," Hedegaard said on her website.

"And since we need first movers to set a plan into motion, we in Europe will adopt an ambitious 2030 target later this year," Hedegaard said.

"Now the question is: when will YOU, the big emitters, do the same? The more you wait, the more it will cost. The more you wait, the more difficult it will become."

The report, issued in Berlin by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the UN goal of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels was attainable.

But it would require a major switch in energy sourcing and consumption.

Negotiations to forge a global pact on greenhouse gases that drive warming are due to climax in Paris at the end of 2015, but have made little progress.

Big emitters are being cautious about showing their hands.

In its new report, the IPCC said there was a "likely" chance of meeting the 2 C target if the world cuts annual greenhouse gas emissions 40-70 percent by 2050 from 2010.

This would entail a "tripling to nearly a quadrupling" in the share of energy from renewable and nuclear sources and from traditional fossil or new biofuel sources whose emissions are captured rather than spewed into the atmosphere.

The European Union (EU) accounted for just over 11 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases in 2010, according to the US thinktank the World Resources Institute (WRI).

The United States contributed 15.6 percent and China 23.6 percent. Other big emitters are Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Under its current plan, EU emissions will fall by 2020 compared by 1990 levels and renewables will account for a 20-percent share of the European energy market.

By the end of 2012, the EU had cut emissions by 18 percent over the 1990 benchmark, while renewables had a share of 12.4 percent in 2010, according to the latest official figures.

In January, the European Commission, the 28-nation bloc's executive, proposed a binding reduction in greenhouse gases of 40 percent by 2030 over 1990 levels.

Renewables should account for at least 27 percent of the total energy mix by 2030, the Commission said. This overall goal would be binding on the EU but not national governments.

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