EU to dial back measures against global warming

The European Union, which has spearheaded efforts to curb global warming, is set to adopt a change of focus in response to concerns over costs and the impact on companies in economically depressed Europe.

Under the change, the European Uniln will prioritize the supply of energy at affordable prices over cutting greenhouse gas emissions which impose burdens on industries, in a turnaround of the region's energy policy, an EU official said Saturday.

EU leaders will decide on the shift in energy policy at a meeting Wednesday. The change reflects requests from businesses in the 27-member zone amid the prolonged economic slump triggered by the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the official said.

A draft conclusion of the EU leaders' meeting obtained by Kyodo News said, "Against the backdrop of high pressure on Europe's competitiveness and increasing energy demand from major economies, the EU's energy policy must ensure the uninterrupted supply of households and companies at affordable and competitive prices."

The draft said investments in new and intelligent energy infrastructure are "vital for jobs and growth and will help enhance competitiveness." The regional body calls for "a predictable climate and energy framework post-2020," according to the paper.

The European Union remains committed to emissions reduction targets under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, under which it pledged to trim its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

"The European Commission is already in 'do nothing' mode on climate change, and it will obviously put off a decision on ambitious targets," the official said on the European Union's post-2020 goals.

The change in policy comes as some European companies are moving to shift operations out of the region to avoid increasing costs to meet the emissions-cut goals, and amid a decline in emission trading launched in the region in 2005.

Discussions on countermeasures against global warming have also lost momentum as the European Union focuses on steps to boost the economy ahead of the European Parliament election scheduled for May next year.