EU optimistic on climate deal after Brazil pledge

Brazil’s pledge to cut climate-warming emissions to 1994 levels over the next decade could help lead to a breakthrough at global climate talks next month, the head of the EU’s executive body said on Saturday.

“This is a potentially decisive step to achieve a global deal in Copenhagen in December and to succeed in the fight against climate change,” Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, said.

The climate talks in Copenhagen aim to hammer out a new deal for battling global warming after the current Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Brazil said on Friday it would take its emissions back to as low as 1994 levels of 1.7 billion tonnes — a cut of between 36.1 percent and 38.9 percent from projected 2020 levels.

Among the world’s biggest carbon polluters mostly due to deforestation, Brazil has become a major player in climate negotiations after years of rejecting such talks and saying the onus was entirely on rich countries to cut emissions.

Its gesture was seen as a possible way out of the deadlock in preparatory talks for Copenhagen that has arisen because rich countries have been slow to come forward with the billions of dollars needed to help poor nations tackle their rising emissions.

“All countries in the world have set December 2009 as a deadline for reaching an international agreement, and Brazil’s timing shows that this deadline works,” Danish climate minister Connie Hedegaard, whose country will host the negotiations, said in a statement.

“We are seeing more and more countries coming forward with climate plans.”

Many industrialized nations say they will not commit to handing funding to the developing world without getting concrete pledges of emissions cuts in return.

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