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EU Parliament passes climate change plans
Associated Press
2008-12-17 08:43 PM
The European Parliament voted Wednesday to endorse a package of bills to enable EU governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

The lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of six bills, passing the deal negotiated by European Union leaders last week on how carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced in the 27-nation bloc.

The final vote comes after 11 months of often arduous negotiations between the European Parliament and national governments and lobbying by business and environmental groups.

Environmental campaigners complained the plan falls short of what is needed to tackle climate change.

"The Parliament has marginalized itself by lacking the courage to make even small changes to the compromises negotiated," said Joris den Blanken from Greenpeace.

The EU's largest business and industry lobby, BusinessEurope, which represents 20 million companies, was also critical, despite achieving concessions that watered down efforts to include heavy industry in an emissions trading plan.

"I am still concerned about the cost effect on European companies which have already done a great deal to reduce emissions," said Philippe de Buck, director general of BusinessEurope.

The complex laws will set out an ambitious target to reduce energy consumption across the EU by 20 percent by tapping into more renewable sources like wind, sun and hydroelectricity. Emissions by new cars will also be capped.

The EU agreement also includes a system _ starting in 2013 _ of auctioning industrial emission permits that are now issued free of charge. Major polluters will eventually pay

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