GENET archive


POLICY: Sarkozy & French campaigners agree on green summit - butnot on GE crops

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TITLE:  Sarkozy, French campaigners agree on green summit
SOURCE: France 24, France
AUTHOR: Agence France Press, France, by R. Easey
DATE:   22.05.2007

Sarkozy, French campaigners agree on green summit

PARIS, May 21, 2007 - French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his new
environment superminister met Monday with leading green campaigners to
hammer out plans for a major conference on France's environmental strategy.

Sarkozy and Alain Juppe, a former prime minister appointed Friday to
lead a powerful new ministry for sustainable development, hosted a two-
hour round-table with nine groups including Greenpeace and WWF.

France's best-known environmental campaigner, the nature TV host Nicolas
Hulot, who drew up a green charter signed by all the presidential
candidates, also took part.

Sarkozy pledged afterwards that the conference, planned for September or
October, "will not just be an umpteenth summit saying how urgent it is
to act on the environment. The time now is for action."

He said he wanted it to lead to a five-year binding environmental
contract between the state, business, unions and green campaigners,
setting practical targets on fighting global warming and pollution and
preserving biodiversity.

"Environmental questions must not be seen as a threat but as a wonderful
opportunity for France," he said.

Sarkozy, who has attacked the United States for refusing to ratify the
Kyoto Protocol, said France should be an "international driving force"
of efforts to combat climate change.

Several participants hailed a "historic" initiative, saying they were
reassured by the government's approach -- despite areas of disagreement
on biotechnology, the use of pesticides and nuclear energy.

Juppe has ruled out a flat moratorium on genetically-modified crops,
saying France cannot afford to fall behind in the field.

Nuclear power -- which accounts for more than three-quarters of French
electricity, the highest ratio of any country in the world -- is also a
major bone of contention with environmentalists.

Juppe, whose vast portfolio includes setting transport and energy
policy, has said nuclear power would remain a main source of energy for
the three of four decades to come, despite campaigners' hostility.

But Franck Laval, of the Ecology Without Borders group, also said the
government appeared determined to boost the share of renewable energies,
which he said was the most pragmatic way to cut the share of nuclear power.

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  Sarkozy wants action on global warming
AUTHOR: The Associated Press, by Christine Ollivier
DATE:   21.05.2007

Sarkozy wants action on global warming

Is French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a conservative with friends in big
business and not much of an environmental record, going green?

Sarkozy, his government just three days old, took on global warming,
genetically modified crops and the future of nuclear energy in talks
Monday with nine leading environmental groups. Ecologists welcomed his
openness, though skeptics questioned Sarkozy's commitment to changing
the way France and the French treat the planet.

"It's time for action," Sarkozy said at the meeting. He has sought to
move quickly since he was elected May 6 with a mandate for change after
12 years under Jacques Chirac left many French feeling adrift.

Critics say Sarkozy is posturing as a unifier on subjects that are not
normally his strong points as a way to poach voters ahead of next
month's legislative elections. Sarkozy needs his party to retain its
majority to pave the way for his ambitious reforms.

Monday's meeting produced no specific solutions for environmental
groups' concerns, but launched preparations for a huge ecology
conference in October involving national and local decision-makers,
business, labor and environmental groups.

The conference is to focus on ways to stem global warming, prevent
pollution-related health problems, and protect dying species. Sarkozy
insisted that he wouldn't make any decisions on prickly issues such as
nuclear energy or genetically modified crops before the conference.

"We will not agree on all subjects. There will be points of divergence.
I don't want difficult subjects to be dodged," he said.

Sarkozy has sought to tap voter concerns about global warming, saying it
would be a top priority in his election night victory speech and chiding
the United States for not fighting it more aggressively.

Greenpeace France campaign director Yannick Jadot called Monday's
meeting "a great sign of openness," while admitting that "strong,
incontestable differences" remain.

Chirac often spoke eloquently about the environment, but France's
ecological record is not as clean as many European peers. Greenpeace and
other groups criticize France for failing to enforce EU rules aimed at
preventing overfishing, protecting open spaces and regulating the
production of genetically modified foods.

France is more dependent on nuclear energy for electricity than any
other country, with more than 70 percent of supply coming from atomic
reactors. Greenpeace wants to reduce that figure and halt development of
the next generation of reactors, which Sarkozy has supported.

Sarkozy has said he would double taxes on polluters as a way of reducing
taxes on employees and bosses and work to limit urban sprawl.

He created a new senior government ministry for the environment, energy
and industry, and assigned conservative heavyweight Alain Juppe to lead
it. Juppe, a former prime minister who was convicted in a party
financing scandal, has little environment-related experience.

An umbrella group of non-governmental organizations that rated French
parties' environmental records earlier this year placed Sarkozy's - and
Juppe's - UMP party near the bottom.

The Green Party, which was not invited to Monday's gathering, said
Sarkozy's proposed October conference "cannot be taken seriously."

"The cultivation of GM crops remains a reality, nuclear energy is being
developed without investment in alternative energy ... and highways and
incinerators are multiplying," the party said in a statement.

Daniel Richard, who heads the French branch of the World Wildlife Fund,
suggested Monday's meeting was little more than hot air.

"He made a gesture but we will be waiting to see whether that translates
into policies we have long been calling for," he said.

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