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UPDATE 2-EU seeks alliance with U.S. on climate change, tech rules

Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett
·2 min read

(Adds von der Leyen quote on Facebook in Australia)

By Sabine Siebold and Kate Abnett

BERLIN, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Europe and the United Statesshould join forces in the fight against climate change and agreeon a new framework for the digital market, limiting the power ofbig tech companies, European Union chief executive Ursula vonder Leyen said.

"I am sure: A shared transatlantic commitment to a net-zeroemissions pathway by 2050 would make climate neutrality a newglobal benchmark," the president of the European Commission saidin a speech at the virtual Munich Security Conference on Friday.

"Together, we could create a digital economy rulebook thatis valid worldwide: a set of rules based on our values, humanrights and pluralism, inclusion and the protection of privacy."

The EU has pledged to cut its net greenhouse gas emissionsto zero by 2050, while President Joe Biden has committed theUnited States to become a "net zero economy" by 2050.

Scientists say the world must reach net zero emissions by2050 to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees abovepre-industrial times and avert the most catastrophic impacts ofclimate change.

The hope is that a transatlantic alliance could helppersuade large emitters who have yet to commit to this timeline- including China, which is aiming for carbon neutrality by2060, and India.

"The United States is our natural partner for globalleadership on climate change," von der Leyen said.

She called the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol a turningpoint for the discussion on the impact social media has ondemocracies.

"Of course, imposing democratic limits on the uncontrolledpower of big tech companies alone will not stop politicalviolence," von der Leyen said. "But it is an important step."

She was referring to a draft set of rules unveiled inDecember which aims to rein in tech companies that controltroves of data and online platforms relied on by thousands ofcompanies and millions of Europeans for work and socialinteractions.

They show the European Commission's frustration with itsantitrust cases against the tech giants, notably Alphabet Inc'sGoogle, which critics say have not addressed theproblem.

But they also risk inflaming tensions with Washington,already irked by Brussels' attempts to tax U.S. tech firms more.

Von der Leyen said Facebook’s decision on a newsblackout on Thursday in response to a forthcoming Australian lawrequiring it and Google to share revenue from news underscoredthe importance of a global approach to dealing with tech giants.

(Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Robin Emmottand Nick Macfie; editing by Jonathan Oatis)