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WWF said the deal was inconsistent with the EU’s long-standing target to keep global warming below 2°C. The deal is part of the Effort Sharing law, which sets national emission targets for sectors such as transport, buildings and agriculture – those not included in the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS).

The ETS sets a cap on carbon emissions used in power and energy intensive industries. If a participant exceeds its cap then it must buy emission permits from another participant who has permits to sell.

Consumer injustice

“EU politicians may be hoping to trumpet today’s deal on climate change as a great success, but in reality this is a significant failure,” said Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at WWF-UK. “Europe has essentially decided to offset almost two thirds of its own greenhouse gas emissions, to have consumers pay for emissions permits that polluting companies will have received for free and to avoid supporting poorer countries in the fight to tackle climate change.

“By refusing to place a pollution limit on fossil fuel power stations, EU heads of government have also failed to ensure that heavily polluting power stations will no longer be part of our future.”

The deal was jointly condemned as a failure by WWF, Climate Action Network Europe, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace and Oxfam.