Cli­mate trumps ter­ror in Europe

The Washington Times Weekly - - From Page One - By Gareth Hard­ing

BRUS­SELS — AEuro­peanCom­mis­sion pro­posal to slash green­house-gase­mis­sions­bytheend­ofthe next decade has high­lighted a grow­ing trans-At­lantic split over global warm­ing that is fur­ther stressed by a re­cent poll that shows Euro­peans are more con­cerned about cli­mate change than ter­ror­ism.

In a ma­jor pack­age of mea­sures aime­dat­com­bat­ting­glob­al­warm­ing twoweek­sago,theEuro­peanUnion’s ex­ec­u­tive arm urged the bloc’s 27 mem­ber states to uni­lat­er­ally cut emis­sions of green­house gases, such as­car­bon­diox­ide,by­one-fifthby2020 com­pared with 1990 fig­ures.

It also called on the United States — which has re­jected manda­tory curb­sone­mis­sions—and­de­vel­op­ing coun­tries such as China and In­dia to joinitin­signingup­toa30per­centre­duc­tion in green­house gases by the same date.

“Europe­mustleadthe­world­in­toa new—or­maybe,oneshould­say,postin­dus­trial — revo­lu­tion: the de­vel­op­mento­falow-car­bonecon­omy,”Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Jose Manuel Bar­roso said while an­nounc­ing the plan in Brus­sels on Jan. 10.

“We have al­ready left be­hind our coal-based in­dus­trial past. It is time to em­brace our low-car­bon fu­ture,” he said.

The Euro­pean Union is cur­rently com­mit­ted to cut­ting a bas­ket of six green­house gases by 8 per­cent by 2010, com­pared with 1990 fig­ures. How­ever, re­cent data from the Euro­peanEn­vi­ron­men­tA­gen­cyshow­sthis tar­get is un­likely to be reached with­out ad­di­tional mea­sures.

The com­mis­sion says its new goal can be reached if mem­ber states im­prove en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, ac­cept com­pe­ti­tion­be­tween­na­tionalen­er­gy­sup­pli­ers,agree­to­pro­duce20per­centof theiren­er­gyfrom­re­new­able­sources suchaswin­dand­so­lar­powerby2020 an­den­surethat10per­centof­ga­so­line con­sumed is made from bio­fu­els by the­same­date.Thecom­mis­sion’splan, which was slammed as “un­am­bi­tious”by­green­group­sand­mem­bers of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, un­der­lines the rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to tack­ling cli­mate change in Europe and the United States.

Apoll­re­leased­bytheFrance24TV chan­nel on Jan. 5 showed global warm­ing to be a greater plan­e­tary chal­lengeth­anter­ror­is­min­fourofthe five Euro­pean coun­tries where the sur­vey­was­con­ducted.In­France,for ex­am­ple,54per­cent­saidthe­great­est chal­lenge to the planet was global warm­ing, com­pared with 26 per­cent who cited ter­ror­ism. By con­trast, 49 per­centofAmer­i­can­scit­edter­ror­ism as­the­biggest­threat,while30per­cent men­tioned cli­mate change.

Si­mon Til­ford, an an­a­lyst at the Lon­don-based think tank Cen­ter for Euro­pean Re­form, said Amer­i­cans and Euro­peans dif­fered over cli­mate change be­cause “in Europe, global warm­ing is ac­cepted as a fact, whereas for a lot of peo­ple in the United States, the jury is still out.”

How­ever, Mr. Til­ford said, at­ti­tudes to­ward global warm­ing were chang­ing in the United States and “whoever wins the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion­will­takeav­ery­d­if­fer­ent­line tothe­cur­rentad­min­is­tra­tion.”In­sim­i­lar polls, such as the Ger­man Mar­shall Fund’s an­nual Trans-At­lantic Trendssur­vey,ter­ror­ismhas­been­the No.1con­cer­nof­both­Euro­peansand Amer­i­cans since the Septem­ber 11, 2001, at­tacks in the United States. But­glob­al­warm­ing­has­shot­to­thetop of the po­lit­i­cal agenda in re­cent months ow­ing in part to for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore’s film “An In­con­ve­nient Truth,” stern warn­ings from sci­en­tifi­cad­vi­so­ry­bod­iesand­hard-toignore ev­i­dence that cli­mate change is al­ready hap­pen­ing.

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