Pressure Mounts on Councils after the EU revealed it is   to set tough new climate Change TargetsThe European Commission confirmed it is to impose stricter targets for emissions in a bid to reduce greenhouse gases. The Lib-Con coalition is understood to be supportive of seeking a new European agreement to unilaterally cut carbon dioxide emissions by 30 per cent by 2020.

While adopting such a move could burnish David Cameron's green credentials, he would face opposition from Conservatives in Parliament.

"It's completely wrong. It's crazy," said former Tory Chancellor Lord Lawson. "It would be extremely damaging for manufacturing and British business generally and would also add considerably to fuel poverty."

A spokesman for the Department for Energy and Climate Change stressed it was "early days" for any plan to cut emissions unilaterally. He added: "This is going to require discussions at EU level to reach a common position."

It comes on top of tough targets on cutting waste going to landfill which come with fines for local authorities that breach them.

To meet the target, reductions in car use, industrial output and energy use would all have to be made.

If the target – set out in a draft statement by the climate commissioner - gets the go-ahead councils would be used by the Department of Energy to push local campaigns.


Planning committees would also see a massive increase in planning applications for sites of renewable energy sources such as wind farms.

The Commission pointed to the fact that the downturn had already led to a 14% drop in emissions: ‘The extra economic effort needed to reach 30% - while still substantial – has fallen.’

The EU was previously only prepared to commit to such a target if other countries such as America and China increased their effort to fight global warming.

EU environmental commissioner Connie Hedegaard says the EU must revive international climate change talks, which stalled in Copenhagen in December, by seizing the initiative, not least because the economic downturn has already resulted in unexpected CO2 cuts of about 10 per cent through factor closures and reduced working.

The European Commission is launching a feasibility study on going it alone to adopt the higher target.

Opponents say doing so without a matching pledge from other major polluters will put the EU at a competitive disadvantage compared with global competition.

The current 20 per cent target is predicted to cost the EU £48billion to reach and increasing it to 30 per cent may add £33billion to the bill.

Friends of the Earth executive director Andy Atkins states: "This proposal shows the EU is on the right road but isn't driving cuts fast enough - a 40 per cent cut by 2020 is the minimum level required if we're to have any chance of avoiding climate catastrophe."


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