• Reuters

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The European Union has submitted its formal promise on how much it will cut greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations ahead of climate change talks starting in November, and called on the United States and China to follow its lead.

The European Union is the first major economy to set its position before the Paris talks.

“We expect China, the United States and the other G-20 countries, in particular, to follow the European Union and submit their contributions by the end of March,” Miguel Arias Canete, climate and energy Commissioner, told reporters after a meeting of EU environment ministers in Brussels on Friday.

French Energy Minister Segolene Royal said Europe was taking up its responsibilities as host of the 2015 Paris climate conference, which will begin on Nov. 30. “A very important step was taken today,” she said. “This is a decisive, historic stage.”

The EU contribution is a target of cutting emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, compared to levels emitted in 1990.

The target was set at a summit in October last year, but ministers still had to agree on the details ahead of the formal submission to the United Nations.

The target has to be achieved domestically rather than via offsets that would allow member states to buy into carbon-cutting programs outside Europe.

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