European Union leaders this week face a crucial credibility test of their ambition to lead the world in fighting climate change, just as President-elect Barack Obama is making it a top priority for the United States.
Will the EU give real teeth to its pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, draw 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources and cut energy consumption by 20 percent over the same period, or will it fall short?
The omens for the Dec. 11-12 summit are not too encouraging.
Europe’s climate goals were agreed in March 2007 in sunnier economic days. The financial crisis and looming recession have fueled pressure from heavy industry and some governments to go easy on implementation measures.
The EU will almost certainly reach a deal by the early hours of Saturday, which French President Nicolas Sarkozy will no doubt declare a triumph for his presidency of the bloc.