EU lawmakers back climate change goals
AP - Thursday, October 23
STRASBOURG, France - EU lawmakers backed the bloc's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 despite concerns in many countries about the financial impact on industries already struggling with the economic downturn.
The European Parliament also passed a bill Wednesday to promote greener transport by obliging public authorities, public transport operators and state-owned companies to take energy consumption and pollution levels into account when buying new vehicles.
The call to reduce emissions by 20 percent by 2020 passed 499-130 with 67 abstentions as part of a wider parliamentary resolution on the economic crisis that also backed EU governments' calls for tighter regulation of financial markets
At an EU summit last week, Italy and several eastern European nations cast doubt on the emissions-cutting timetable because of the impact of the economic crisis on industry.
The 27 EU nations have set themselves a December deadline for agreeing on how to share out the cuts. Finding a deal will be difficult because Poland and other eastern nations say they need support to help them switch from the high-emission, coal-fired power plants that provide much of their energy.
The clean vehicle bill was approved 641-37 with 24 abstentions. The EU hopes it will have an impact beyond public companies by persuading bus and car makers to switch to cleaner technologies.
"The public sector in Europe will set an example by promoting new and better vehicle technologies for a future sustainable transport system," EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said. "This sends a clear signal to the market and to the citizens on the competitive value of technologies which save energy and protect the environment."
Meanwhile, former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar likened champions of the fight against global warming to creators of an intolerant religion. Aznar said he does not deny global warming, but rather questions the fact that so much money is being dedicated to combat it while the world is in an economic crisis.
The ex-premier spoke at the presentation in Spain of a book written by Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who questions whether global warming has reached crisis proportions, as many scientists assert.
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