Nicolas Sarkozy

France Becomes First Country To Ban Fracking; Gas Drilling Still A Go

In a major setback for the oil and gas industry, the French Senate last week voted 176 to 151 to ban hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking), the controversial gas industry drilling method facing scrutiny the world over due to water contamination and other concerns. Once the legislation receives presidential approval, France will be the first country to permanently outlaw fracking.

The ban on fracking is a major victory for the French public, wary of the health, safety and water contamination impacts that unconventional gas drilling would have on communities. Still, with up to five billion cubic metres of unconventional gas spread across southern France, the drilling drama is likely far from settled.

UN Climate Summit: Flickers of Hope, but the Building is Still Burning

Heard on the street: “I hate it when the president comes to town”

New York is in disarray. Almost every mid-town street corner east of Broadway is choked with flatfoots, guns and radios tugging at their belts. As you get closer to First Avenue - closer to the United Nations Building - the barricades start appearing on the sidewalks and the traffic ebbs and flows depending on whether a presidental cavalcade is currently in motion.

In the last block, traffic disappears altogether. The constant thrum of this boundless city gives over to the quiet clatter of helicopters high overhead. Small clusters of UN delegates, bureaucrats, activists and journalists wait for permission to move to the next choke point - wait for the passing of the next parade.

As it turns out, there is not just one president in town. There are probably 60 - among almost 100 heads of state here today for the UN Climate Summit. You can judge the perceived importance of these various world leaders by how many police cars and high-security SUVs are in each individuals convoy - and by the tension on the faces of the soldiers riding in those SUV’s, their M16s at the ready.

Europe Leads - North America Dawdles

Which is more important: climate change or the global economic crisis? The answer for Europe is both.

So important is tacking global warming in Europe that leaders have pledged to stick with their carbon cutting agendas, even while dealing with the greatest economic crisis since the great depression.

European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, stated for the record that “We're not going to let up in the battle against climate change and there's no question of picking between the financial crisis and climate change. The two go together.”

Sarkozy Speaks In Earth-Saving Sintax

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a national “carbon tax” on global-warming pollutants and a European levy on imports from countries outside the Kyoto Protocol.

Sarkozy mentioned no names, but any such levy is bound to be targeted at imports from the United States and Australia, the only advanced economies that remain outside the UN's landmark pact on greenhouse-gas emissions.

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