EU Members Agree to Cut Greenhouse Gases by 20% by 2020

While the EU ministers gave their broad support to a plan to include airlines the carbon emissions trading program, they voiced concern that the trading might push up the cost of flights to remote parts of Europe.

Even old EU members like Finland, Spain and Denmark said they were concerned about the burden sharing.

Gabriel said the EU was facing a "historic decision" on climate change. He said Germany's parliament was ready to set the pace - with a cut of up to 40 percent.

"There will be some countries like Germany who will see a steeper reduction in greenhouse gases, and other countries, some of them no doubt in eastern Europe, that will have to achieve a lesser reduction in greenhouse gases because of the need to catch up economically," Gabriel said.

EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said EU nations had come a long way since last March, when leaders gave only vague direction to environment officials, telling them to look at a cut in global carbon dioxide emissions of between 15 and 30 percent.

"Not even the word 'target' was there," he said.


Netherlands bureau chief Arthur Max contributed to this report.

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