Nicolas Sarkozy’s messages have become greener in recent months. Looking at the record, it appears that this turn may have come about when his time as EU President put him directly in line with the conflicts between member countries concerning climate change issues. Generally these disagreements center on how to best divide the responsibilities and costs for adaptation and mitigation measures. As far back as 2007, Sarkozy called for a national “Carbon tax” on “climate change pollutants” and suggested a European tariff on imports from countries falling outside of the Kyoto Protocol.
The head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Rajendra Pachauri, recently visited France. Sarkozy reportedly stated that the ”challenge of a world agreement on climate change must be met.” Following the meeting at the Elysee Palace, Pachauri said the French president was committed to pursuing a green agenda and “really wants to do something in this area.” “He would like to see that Copenhagen is a success and he is going to work with the others leaders to do that,” said Pachauri.
It is true that Sarkozy has called on President Obama in recent months to follow the EU in the climate change arena. For example, he scored big with his supporters when indeed the U.S. House of Representatives agreed to the Waxman-Markey (American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009) Bill.
But critics cite some red flags – Sarkozy recently expressed a strong preference for Claude Allegre to head his cabinet’s Ministry of Science, Industry, and Innovation. Allegre, is a celebrated geophysicist, in the French and American National Academies of Science. Yet, a former climate change champion, he has recently reversed his opinion and no longer believes that human activity is responsible for any of the climate change modifications at hand. He at best is seen as an “enemy” to scientists lauding that further exacerbation to climate change can be halted by changes in human behavior and energy consumption specifically.
It will be interesting to see how Sarkozy progresses as we enter the Copenhagen negotiations, after showing some erratic behavior on the climate change front.