WWF turns up heat on climate decision

Environmental group fears weak agreement, says Italy, France blocking deal on climate targets

Environmental group, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) has put in a last minute plea for tougher European Union climate change targets, as EU environment ministers prepare to discuss the issue at tomorrow's Environment Council.

Today, the EU office of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) accused Italy and France of blocking attempts to agree strict targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2005. France is "employing delaying tactics," while Italy is "obstructing" progress, the group says. WWF also accused the EU of moving towards setting a 2005 target no more ambitious than the sum of national commitments already made by 1996.

In the past, WWF has called for the EU to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2005. Given environment ministers' March agreement on a 15% target for 2010, the group now says that a 10% target for 2005 is "essential" if the EU is to play a progressive role at the G8 summit and Earth Summit II later this month.

WWF also argues that it is vital to achieve a legally binding 2005 reduction target at the Kyoto meeting of parties to the UN climate change convention in December. It fears that if the EU either fails to agree a position now or settles on too low a figure, then the chances of agreement among all industrialised countries in Kyoto will be damaged.

Meanwhile, the word around Brussels today is that ministers are almost certain to agree on a 7.5% target for 2005, as predicted by ENDS Daily last week (ENDS Daily 13 June). Only a minority of countries still support a 10% target, while all the rest except France and Italy have described 7.5% as a "good basis for agreement".

WWF attacked the prospect of agreement on 7.5% today as no stronger than the sum of existing national commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Based on a European Commission summary of EU member state commitments on carbon dioxide prepared for the UN climate change convention secretariat last June, WWF says that the EU has already effectively committed itself to an aggregate 7.5% cut in emissions by 2005.

"By failing to strengthen their emission reduction commitments, the overwhelming majority of member states are guilty of ignoring the enormous body of new science which concludes that climate change is happening," WWF said today.

Follow Up:
WWF European Policy Office (WWF International ), tel: +32 2 743 8800.

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