European Union leaders on Thursday were debating a French proposal to boost massively climate-friendly technology in developing countries as part of the fight against global warming, dpa reported.
The proposal from the French government, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, held out special hope for poor island nations, which are at risk of being flooded by rising sea levels and which have not yet benefited as much as they had hoped from international sponsorship systems.
EU member states have pledged to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2, the gas most linked with global warming) to 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020. They plan to do so by making heavy industries buy permits to emit CO2 and imposing mandatory cuts on non-industrial emissions for each of the EU's 27 member states.
Under the French proposals, seen by Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, member states will be allowed to make cuts equal to 3 per cent of their total emissions in 2005 in developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, rather than at home.
The 11 EU countries which have the most demanding targets for non-industrial cuts will be allowed to make an extra cut equal to 1 per cent of their 2005 emissions in "least-advanced and developing island nations," as long as the projects meet certain minimum standards.
Those countries are Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The proposal also says that heavy industries which sponsor emissions-reduction projects in developing countries should be allowed to emit 1 ton of CO2 in the EU for every ton of emissions their project saves in the developing country.
EU industrial plants will be allowed to write off fully half of all their emissions in this way, the proposal says.
Diplomats say that the proposals are a good way to balance the EU's need to cut emissions on its own territory while supporting clean development abroad.
But environmental groups say that the proposals give EU companies and countries far too much credit for their work overseas - and therefore make the EU's goals for internal reductions too weak.