EU insists on 37% emissions cut for Britain despite Brexit

BRUSSELS -- The European Union has unveiled national targets for cutting greenhouse gases by 2030, insisting Britain is still legally required to help the bloc meet its UN goal despite being set to leave.

At the Paris climate summit in December, EU made a commitment to cut emissions by 40% over 1990. Now the EU expects wealthy northern European countries, including Britain, to bear the brunt of the emission reductions. Despite Britain's shock referendum vote last month for Brexit, the European Commission included it on its list of proposed binding emissions targets for all 28 EU countries.

"These targets are realistic, fair and flexible," EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete told a press conference, adding that the targets would become legally binding if and when approved by member states.

Under the targets, which are based on economic growth, Sweden and tiny Luxembourg must cut emissions by 40% over 2005 levels, while Finland and Denmark must cut emissions by 39% and powerhouse Germany by 38%. Britain and France are asked to cut emissions by 37% while Netherlands and Austria should cut by 36%.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May's government has yet to initiate the exit negotiations, but has promised to follow through on climate change commitments.

In contrast, poorer eastern and southern EU countries are asked to contribute far less to the targets. Bulgaria, the poorest state in the bloc, was given an emissions reductions target of 0%, while Romania, Latvia, Croatia, Poland, Hungary and Lithuania are all set below 10%. Poland in particular gets off lightly given its reliance on coal-fired power stations.

The emission proposals will be debated by the member states and the European Parliament.