The Austrian government came under fierce attack from Greenpeace today, after its negotiators secured a big cut in Austria's commitments under the EU climate burden sharing arrangement at the EU Environment Council in Luxembourg (ENDS Daily 17 June). Between the circulation of a new proposal by the UK presidency some three weeks ago and the final outcome on Tuesday, Austria secured an eight percentage point reduction in its commitments, from -21% to -13%. Although most member states secured some relaxation during ministerial negotiations, Austria's is by far the largest. Greenpeace Austria attacked the relaxation yesterday, describing it as "shameful". "It is clear that the government does not care about climate change," a spokesperson for Greenpeace told ENDS Daily. The group also accuses the government of hypocrisy, because it was a signatory to an accord in Toronto to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20%. The Austrian presidency of the EU, which begins on 1 July, is starting with the country "setting a catastrophically bad example" to other member states, Greenpeace said. A spokesperson for the Austrian environment ministry described the new national greenhouse gas reduction target as a compromise between the country's commitment and the demands of industry, which had argued for a national target of just 8%, the same as the EU's overall target agreed at Kyoto last December.
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