WAS it an historic agreement as President Sarkozy claimed or a dark day for European climate policy as Greenpeace and other environment non-governmental pressure groups insisted? At issue is the deal for measures to control global warming that the European Union negotiated chaired by Nicolas Sarkozy. When there is such a gulf between the opinions of knowledgeable people it may be a good idea to take the view of an outsider - in this case Senator John Kerry who was Barack Obama's representative at the concurrent UN climate change talks taking place in Poland. He said that the EU's package was a blueprint for the rest of the world and would have a major impact on the all-important UN global climate change conference due to take place in Copenhagen at the end of next year. Essentially, President Sarkozy succeeded in getting the European Union's confirmation of its earlier commitment in principle to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020. Given that the industries of the EU's 27 members vary enormously in the fuels they use and the efficiency of their plants, it follows that concessions had to be made to some countries with particular difficulties in meeting the target. But Sarkozy's achievement - a considerable one - was to enable the European Union to present a unified example to the world. If, as seems likely, Barack Obama takes a positive stance on this issue, significant progress in countering climate change may at last be possible.
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