EU environment ministers call for action on climate

Reuters

* US, China embracing green growth -British minister

* Carbon market structural reform required

* Commission expected to publish proposals around year-end

By Barbara Lewis and Nina Chestney

BRUSSELS/LONDON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Thirteen Europeanenvironment ministers urged the European Union on Monday toadopt ambitious energy and climate goals for 2030 or riskfalling behind the rest of the world.

In a 40-page document released in Brussels, they also calledon the 28-nation bloc to reform the EU's Emissions TradingSystem (ETS) and said environmental action need not clash withefforts to limit energy prices.

On the contrary, some EU nations with high levels ofrenewable energy have relatively low energy prices and are alsobenefiting from exporting renewable technology, they said.

"The EU has been leading this market, but the Chinese andU.S.A. are seeing this as an opportunity and are catching up,"Ed Davey, Britain's energy and climate change secretary, told aBrussels conference.

"My concern is that the EU is not moving anywhere near fastenough, but for a number of reasons political and economic, weare not getting our act together this time around."

Britain has said the European Union as a whole needs topromise a 50 percent cut in emissions by 2030 compared with 1990levels in the context of an expected U.N. deal to be agreed in2015 in Paris.

Of that, 10 percent could come from international carbonoffsets, and the rest would be a cut in domestic EU emissions.

While the 13 ministers, who call themselves the Green GrowthGroup, agree on the need for action, they differ on detail.

Britain wants only one carbon-cutting goal, while Denmarkfavours three targets - on carbon, renewables and energysavings. Portugal also wants a fourth goal to improve energyinfrastructure.

So far, the European Union has three 2020 targets - to cutemissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels, increase renewable useto 20 percent of the total and improve efficiency to reduceenergy use by 20 percent from projected consumption levels.

HOW DEEP TO CUT?

For 2030, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said theCommission, the EU executive, was analysing the impact ofrespective EU cuts of 35 percent, 40 percent and 45 percent.

Depending on that analysis, it will propose a target as partof a package of climate and energy legislation, probably earlynext year.

EU leaders will then discuss the proposals at a Brusselssummit in March ahead of a September summit hosted by U.N.Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, which is meant to pave the wayfor the next global U.N. deal in 2015.

Hedegaard said it was imperative that business help to spurdebate at EU level, or policy uncertainty otherwise could dragon for years, particularly in view of elections in the EuropeanParliament and a change-over of Commissioners next year.

Not all companies are as progressive as those such as DongEnergy and Royal Dutch Shell that lenttheir voices to Monday's call for action, she said.

"My concern is that there are some organised interests thatare too much advocating business as usual," Hedegaard said.

Ahead of EU and global climate decisions in 2014 and 2015,EU member Poland will host climate talks in Warsaw in November.

With its coal-dependent economy, Poland has resisted deeperemissions cuts and anything else that could drive up the EUcarbon price and make it more expensive to burn coal.

But earlier this month, Poland promised to lead the call fordeeper international emissions cuts, and Hedegaard said shehoped a short-term fix to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme wouldbe agreed "in weeks rather than months", paving the way fordeeper reform.

The carbon market is trading at below 5 euros a tonne, nowhere near enough to engineer a shift to green fueluse, because of a glut of permits following economic recession.

One reform under consideration is a mechanism to regulatethe supply of EU carbon permits. On that issue, Hedegaard saidthe Commission had not taken a firm decision.

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