Dutch develop EU climate change policy

EU Presidency proposes measures to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets

The Dutch Presidency of the EU has signalled an intention to give the Union a strong role in coordinating measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet targets beyond 2000, a government official indicated today.

Speaking at a conference on climate change policy in Brussels today, the head of climate change at the Dutch Environment Ministry, Yvo de Boer, said the EU had in the past set targets for reducing emissions "without the slightest idea how it was going to achieve them".

Mr de Boer said the Dutch Presidency would ensure stronger intervention at EU level. It has drawn up a list of "policies and measures for Community action", which it hopes will form the basis of Council conclusions on climate change at a meeting of environment ministers from 2-4 March.

The proposals follow a recent Presidency statement in which it proposed overall EU targets for reducing emission of six key greenhouse gases after 2000 and the share of the burden that each member country should bear. The overall proposal is to cut emissions against 1990 levels by 10% by 2005 and 15% by 2010.

Many of the sectors proposed today as priorities for action are already under scrutiny by the EU Commission; for instance action on renewable energy, cogeneration and vehicle emissions. But the Presidency is keen to get concrete measures to the Council table for approval.

Two new areas for action are to tackle nitrous oxide emissions during the production of the nylon intermediate adipic acid and greenhouse gas emissions in general from heavy industry. The Presidency is also keen to push for a switch in favoured transportation modes away from road and air - it has made no secret of its desire for a levy on aviation fuel.

The Dutch proposals will be discussed at a meeting of member state climate experts from 17 to 18 February. Mr de Boer said the March Environment Council will be the "last chance" for the EU to agree policies if it is to influence negotiations on an international agreement by parties to the UN Climate Change Convention in December.

Follow Up:
Dutch Environment Ministry, Tel: +31 70 3393984.

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