CURRENT economic maladies offer a tempting opportunity for governments to renege on high-cost commitments made in better times and about which they claim always to have had misgivings. The necessary drastic measures to make an impact on climate change provide an example - some European Union members states, led by Italy, would like to postpone or drop altogether painfully negotiated proposals for reductions in carbon dioxide emissions that are due to take effect next year. It is encouraging, therefore, that rumours of a collective climb-down by the EU have proved to be wrong. Arguing that the EU would open itself to ridicule if it changed course, President Sarkozy has insisted that the carbon dioxide emissions regime must be finally approved at the December summit - the last of France's EU presidency. Even so, the wording of the draft summit communiqué yesterday afternoon left room for some slippage with a reference to “each member-state's specific situation”. Britain, France and Germany must be immovable on the issue of climate change.
The anticipated global recession may in itself help through a reduction in economic activity but effective measures against global warming and its consequences have targets twenty years and even further ahead. The longer action is delayed the more difficult it will be to achieve results as climate change takes increasing hold and becomes increasingly resistant to reversal.


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