Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore was on hand at the final press conference to close the Grenelle hosted by President Nicolas Sarkozy, offering fulsome praise for France’s successful 4-month consultation to rethink its entire approach to the environment and holding it up as a model for global efforts to fight climate change. “I want to offer my congratulations to the French people. This is the beginning of an historic process,” Gore said. To Sarkozy, he added: “Today you become known as a great friend of the people of this planet.”
“We need a ‘Grenelle mondial’ (Worldwide Grenelle) so that we can all go far quickly.”
Is Gore a candidate to head up the hypothetical UNEO (United Nations Environment Organisation), a project which Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo has said he will push in earnest when France assumes presidency of the European Union in July 2008? I certainly hope so.
Also present at the closing session was European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Throughout the 30-minute press conference, Sarkozy turned to Barroso again and again to entreat him to push for the most stringent standards possible for new cars, for carbon emissions at the European level, and he pledged that France would honor all of the requirements. Barroso, for his part, pledged that “France and the European Union are working in tandem to fight climate change.”
Barroso noted that the EU had fixed an objective of reducing carbon emissions by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels.
“We (Europeans) were the first to have regional restrictions for carbon emissions. This head start opens the way to lead the international community in the fight against planetary warming.”