The European Parliament has backed a package of measures to combat global warming - seen as a key EU initiative.

The plan, agreed by EU leaders last week, sets out how the 27 member states will cut carbon emissions by 20% by 2020, compared with 1990 levels. With the backing of MEPs, the package - hailed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy as "historic" - becomes law. But critics say concessions made to some industrial sectors will lessen the package's long-term impact. Scientists say carbon dioxide emissions need to be cut by 25-40% by 2020 for there to be a reasonable chance of avoiding dangerous climate change.

"We have sealed the climate package," European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering said after Wednesday's vote in Strasbourg. The package - first presented by the European Commission in January - went through by a large majority.