BRUSSELS, Feb 20 (Reuters) – European Union environment ministers intend to set an ambitious, legally binding target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Tuesday.
He told a news conference that the 27 ministers had backed in principle a proposed unilateral cut in EU emissions of 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and the objective of cutting by 30 percent if other industrialised countries join in.
“So as far as these two objectives are concerned, those are things we agree,” he said.
Gabriel, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said the targets would be binding.
He said the goals would be based on 1990 as a reference year when calculating the cuts, but the EU would look in its internal discussions at using other base years for some new east European member states’ emissions reductions.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said he was sure a formula could be found to address concerns by some EU states on sharing the emissions cuts.
Some states, particularly in eastern Europe, want to use a base year that would make their required emissions cuts less severe. Gabriel said a burden-sharing agreement would be reached in which some states had to cut emissions more than others, but details would probably not be decided on Tuesday.

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