* Poland leads opposition to an early decision
* Industry split over green goals' economic benefit
By Barbara Lewis and Ben Garside
BRUSSELS/LONDON, March 19 European Union leaders
are preparing to set an October deadline for agreeing on the
bloc's 2030 climate and energy goals, a draft document seen by
At a meeting this Thursday and Friday, according to the
draft, "The European Council will take stock of progress made on
these issues at its meeting in June ... with a view to taking a
final decision on the new policy framework as quickly as
possible and no later than October 2014."
Business and governments have been split on whether leaders
should make an early agreement on plans for 2030 in the run-up
to global talks on tackling climate change.
The European Commission, the EU executive, in January
outlined a binding 2030 goal to cut carbon emissions by 40
percent compared with 1990 levels. The bloc has almost met its
2020 target of a 20 percent reduction.
Environment ministers from 13 member states including
Germany, France and Britain have urged EU leaders to agree on a
position in order to pile pressure on other powers to ready
their own plans ahead of negotiations late next year on a global
climate pact to take effect from 2020.
But EU diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, have
for months played down the chances of an agreement before June.
Poland and other east European countries with heavy reliance on
carbon-intensive coal want to wait until China and the United
States unveil their proposals, which all nations have agreed
must be ready by April 2015.
The summit this week will call on the Commission, the EU
executive, to do further analysis on how the 2030 goal will
impact each member state and design policies that "result in
fair-effort sharing", according to the latest draft for the
summit, dated March 19.
Scientists and environmental campaigners have urged the bloc
to continue its leadership in tackling climate change to ensure
that global temperature rises are kept below the 2 degree
Celsius level that U.N.-backed scientists say is needed to
prevent a huge increase in droughts, flooding and rising sea
They want the European Union to agree on its 2030 goals
ahead of a September meeting in New York convened by U.N. chief
Ban Ki-Moon, who aims to catalyse support among world leaders
for the climate pact.
Divisions between politicians are mirrored by divisions in
Europe's business community.
Big power companies want certainty to help plan their huge
upfront investments, and some other companies also say that jobs
in clean technology manufacturing will be lost abroad without a
decision this week to set stronger climate policies.
"We call upon you (leaders) to swiftly adopt a robust
package during your Council negotiations this week, so as to
send a clear signal to your peers across the globe and most
importantly to business leaders and investors doing business in
Europe," the Prince of Wales's Corporate Leaders Group said in a
The group's members include firms ranging from Coca-Cola
and Royal Dutch Shell and for the first time
include several Polish businesses and research groups, including
engineering consultancy Buro Happold and technology producer
Carrier Polska, which is part of United Technologies Corporation
But heavy industrial companies such as chemical producers
and steelmakers are urging caution to ensure they remain
competitive with rivals in regions with looser environmental
"Europe must not again impose on itself unilateral CO2
reduction targets which no one else follows," 60 CEOs of
European steelmakers including ArcelorMittal and
ThyssenKrupp wrote in an open letter to the Council
sent last week.
Scientists at Germany's Potsdam Institute said the European
Union could take the lead in setting 2030 goals at little extra
cost, because it had already set policies in place that would
lead to a 30 percent cut.
"Late-comers would have the benefit of lower costs while
they delay action but would face higher transient costs once
their turn to decarbonise comes," the institute said on
Wednesday, referring to a study it carried out with 16 other
EU nations are among a handful of industrialised economies
that have committed to binding emission reduction targets to
2020, while other major emitters have pledged only voluntary
goals. The committed group accounts for less than 15 percent of
(editing by Jane Baird)