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A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
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Item #d98jul112b

EUROPEAN UNION.After a marathon negotiating session in June 1998, the EU finally agreed on specific binding commitments for each of its members, to achieve the overall EU goal of reducing emissions of six greenhouse gases eight percent from 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The process became difficult because several countries wanted to relax the allocations originally proposed in 1997. In the final agreement, most of the richer northern countries, with the exception of the U.K., got a slight reduction in their commitments. The commitments of Spain, Portugal and Greece were reduced substantially. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 608-609, June 24, 1998; New Scientist, p. 22, May 9, and commentary on p. 51, May 16; Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3, June 12.

In March, the European automobile industry offered to voluntarily cut average fleet CO2 emissions to 140 grams per kilometer. This 25 percent reduction would be a less ambitious goal than the 120 gram level proposed by the EU Council of Ministers last year. (See Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 312-313, Apr. 1.) But the offer is contingent on the adoption of similar standards in the U.S. and Japan. The European Commission agreed to the plan in late July, after some details were worked out, but it is subject to final approval from the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament. (See ibid., p. 764, Aug. 5.) For discussion of the European situation as well as the efficacy of such CAFE (corporate average fuel efficiency) standards in general, see New Scientist, pp. 18-19, Apr. 25.

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