EU pushes for climate-change laws by end of year

( dpa )- The European Union's environment ministers pushed Monday for EU-wide laws on fighting climate change to be approved by the end of the year, ahead of talks on a global deal due in December 2008 and in 2009.

"It's extremely important that there be a political deal" before "crucial" international talks on finding a successor to the Kyoto Protocol begin in the Polish town of Poznan on December 1-12, French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo said at a meeting with EU counterparts.

France is to take over the EU's presidency in the second half of this year, and will be responsible for concluding an EU deal on the legal proposals ahead of the talks in Poznan.

Such a deal within the EU would "send a really important signal to the negotiations in Poznan," Britain's Environment Minister Hilary Benn stressed, adding: "we've got to do a lot between now and the end of the year."

Also attending the EU meeting in Brussels was Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

He told ministers that the only way to make a global deal viable was for the EU and the United States to boost their support for emerging states such as China, India and Brazil.

"Europe has to begin thinking now about the kind of financial architecture it can put in place that will make it possible for large developing countries like China, India and Brazil to engage" in such a deal, de Boer said.

That support should be organized on a government-to-government level, as well as via international market tools, he stressed.

Over the last three months, the European Commission - the bloc's executive body - has proposed a series of laws aimed at reducing the EU's emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and boosting research into climate-friendly technologies and fuels.

EU leaders say that a swift adoption of such laws would give the bloc a powerful negotiating position in international talks on finding a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

But they have criticized the commission's proposals for the way in which they attempt to spread the burden of cutting emissions, making a rapid deal on the laws by no means assured.

The Czech Republic, which is set to take over the EU presidency in January 2009, "could take over (the negotiating process) if France fails," Czech minister Martin Bursik pointed out.

Talks on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol were launched after marathon debates in Bali in December and are set to culminate in Copenhagen from November 30 to December 11, 2009.

"The international community is watching Europe to see ... how the political leadership shown in Bali is translated into real policy advances," de Boer said.

While he welcomed the "sense of urgency" which EU states were showing over the issue, he also urged them to do more to help developing economies adopt climate-friendly technology, rather than trying to protect EU industry by using tariffs and import taxes.

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