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December 13, 2008

E.U. adopts climate change pact

By Edward Cody
Washington Post - printed in the Spokesman Review 12/13/08

BRUSSELS, Belgium – The leaders of Europe adopted what they described as a historic pact to combat global warming Friday and challenged President-elect Barack Obama to join in their commitment to drastically reduce greenhouse gases despite the global economic crisis.

The 27 European Union nations also endorsed a $260 billion economic stimulus plan, equivalent to 1.5 percent of the bloc’s gross domestic product, and urged the Obama administration to prepare similarly ambitious measures and financial reforms.

The European leaders, particularly President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, who holds the union’s rotating presidency, committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 20 percent before 2020 – and by 30 percent if other countries make comparable pledges at a U.N. environment conference scheduled next year in Copen- hagen.

To reach their goals, the leaders pledged that 20 percent of their energy will come from renewable sources by 2020, leading to predictions of windmill farms across the European countryside and carpets of solar panels.

Only about 8.5 percent of Europe’s energy now comes from renewable sources. Experts predicted that steps needed to reach the targets could raise electricity bills in Europe by as much as 15 percent for industrial users and add nearly $200 to the average household’s annual bill.

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