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EU pledges to battle climate change


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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — More windmills, and not just in Holland. Even smaller, more efficient cars, running on fuel that is grown, not pumped. Solar panels alongside the spires and mansions of Europe.

European leaders on Friday committed themselves to these changes — and many others — as they seek to turn their bloc of 27 nations into a green giant to lead the rest of the world in battling climate change by using more renewable energy.

And as Europe moves to save energy, the changes for consumers will range from higher-priced airline tickets to lower-energy refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and driers.

At a landmark summit, European Union leaders agreed that a fifth of the energy used by 2020 will come from renewable sources such as the sun and the wind, and challenging the rest of the world to follow.

The plan goes beyond the 35-nation Kyoto Protocol in setting targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases, but it still faces problems over how to share the burden among its coal- and oil-dependent countries, and what to do about nuclear power.

"We assume leadership with this unilateral reduction," said French President Jacques Chirac, at what was likely his last summit before leaving office. "This is part of the great moments of European history."

The EU leaders hope their commitment to tackling climate change will encourage other leading polluters, such as the United States, Russia, China and India, to agree on deep cuts in emissions of the gases that contribute to global warming.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds both the presidency of the EU and the Group of Eight industrialized nations, will present the plans to President Bush and other G-8 leaders at a summit in June.

Merkel challenged the rest of the world to follow the EU, saying there still was time to "avoid what could well be a human calamity" caused by an overheated planet.

The leaders agreed that the EU will produce 20 percent of its power through renewable energy, an increase from the current figure of around 6 percent.

They also pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent from 1990 levels, but said the EU could go to 30 percent if other countries join.

The plan also called for one-tenth of all cars and trucks in the EU nations to run on biofuels made from plants.

The agreement, which does not have an enforcement mechanism yet, means more windmills, solar panels and energy-efficient light bulbs for Europe — and certainly changes in lifestyle, business and the economy.

The major business lobbying group BusinessEurope complained to Merkel this week about the energy targets and said it was "a step into the unknown" because no one had ever assessed the impact on European companies.

But European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the short-term costs would be outweighed by the price of doing nothing.

The nations are divided over the role of nuclear energy — a technology that creates little carbon dioxide but a lot of radioactive waste.

If EU nations fail to carry their weight, the EU's executive arm should be able to launch legal action at the bloc's high court that could lead to the imposition of heavy fines on countries that violate the targets.

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The nations are divided over the role of nuclear energy — a technology that creates little carbon dioxide but a lot of radioactive waste.

I think radioactive waste (radioactive anything) is going to be a far bigger problem for the future, than carbon dioxide could ever be.

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I would agree. I watched the Gore movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" and the one thing I noted they failed to mention was all the nuclear explosions that have been tested in our atmosphere and in the sea. I have a friend of mine that has asthma and recently their inhaler was changed by the manufacturer because it contributed to the effects of global warming. (There's an article about this on this forum somewhere about this as well, though I can't remember the title). I found that to be very funny. No, nuclear bombs have no effect on the global warming issue, but that little inhaler is the ruin of the world, boy! :lol:

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