Global impact of EU 30 pct carbon cut small:IEA

WARSAW (Reuters) - New European Union proposals for a tough cut in carbon dioxide emissions would have only a limited impact on the global warming process, International Energy Agency chief economist told Reuters on Monday.

The EU has agreed a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 compared with 1990 levels, but proposals have surfaced that the cut should reach 30 percent.

Fatih Birol, of the IEA, said the gains from the tougher EU reduction target would roughly equal only two weeks of China’s emissions.

“The United States and China are essential for combating climate change globally. We estimate extending Europe’s plan to cut emissions from 20 to 30 percent would roughly equal China’s two-week gas output,” Birol said in an interview.

Birol was skeptical about the chance of a breakthrough in the forthcoming United Nations climate summit in Mexico.

“The wind is not blowing in the right direction for fighting global warming. Frankly, there are virtually no chances for the Cancun summit to end in legally binding agreement,” Birol said, adding, “I would be very happy to be proven wrong on this.”

Environment ministers from nearly 200 countries are to gather in Cancun, Mexico, at a November 29-December10 conference to try and thrash out details of a global climate deal, which is expected to be finalized in December 2011.

The Cancun talks follow a disappointing summit in Copenhagen last year, which failed to agree on a successor deal to the present Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012.

Editing by Jane Baird