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EU Leaders Agree to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions by at Least 40 Percent by 2030

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BRUSSELS - European Union leaders agreed early Friday to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 28-nation bloc to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The deal was aimed at countering climate change and setting an example for the rest of the world ahead of key international climate negotiations next year.

A package agreed by leaders at an EU summit in the early hours of Friday after lengthy negotiations also requires climate-friendly, renewable energy to provide at least 27 percent of the bloc's needs and demands that energy efficiency increase by at least 27 percent in the next 16 years.

"It was not easy, not at all, but we managed to reach a fair decision," said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy. "It sets Europe on an ambitious yet cost-effective climate and energy path."

The decision makes the EU the first major economy to set post-2020 emissions targets ahead of a global climate pact that is supposed to be adopted next year in Paris. Other countries including the U.S. and China are bound to be measured against the EU goals as they present their own emissions targets.

The EU pledges will carry weight because they come from an economic powerhouse. The combined Gross Domestic Product of EU member states is larger than that of the United States, which has the greatest GDP of any single nation. The bloc says it is responsible for less than 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

EU leaders also pledged to increase the amount of energy countries can trade with one another - a move pushed for by Spain and Portugal, which want to be able to sell renewable energy they generate.    
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