European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas has applauded US President Barack Obama’s first moves on environmental policy and has told Sunday’s Kathimerini that he hopes it will lead to progress on cutting carbon emissions worldwide. Obama last week signed memoranda aimed at prodding the struggling US auto industry to design new fuel-efficient vehicles to lessen US dependence on energy sources. Significantly, he also paved the way for individual US states to set their own emission limits for vehicles and pledged to reduce the US’s greenhouse gases by 80 percent, based on 1990 levels, by 2050. Dimas, a Greek, said that these developments were «extremely positive» and «a good first step.» «The road toward the new international agreement on climate change in Copenhagen at the end of the year, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol, will be hard and the USA will play a significant role,» said the commissioner. Dimas and the EU have proposed ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Conference, which will start on November 30, that developed countries should reduce their emissions by 30 percent, based on 1990 levels, by 2020. Developing countries will also be encouraged to reduce the growth of their emissions while Dimas is additionally proposing that a deal be struck on funding this reduction in pollution. Dimas told Sunday’s Kathimerini that, should an agreement be reached to reduce emissions by 30 percent, then the EU will also revise its target of reducing energy consumption upward by 20 percent. Part of Dimas’s plan is for the 27-nation bloc to get 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. He concedes that this is an «ambitious» target that will require a «concerted effort.» «Beyond the environmental benefits, there will be clear economic gains too, which will help us deal with the crisis we are experiencing, as well as other advantages, such as an improvement in air quality and the health of citizens,» said Dimas.