France's prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, whose hopes of being elected the next president of France are in desperate need of rejuvenation, has proposed that the European Union impose a carbon tax on products imported from countries who remain outside the next emissions regime. de Villepin made a point of mentioning China by name; lately, competition from a flood of inexpensive imports from China has been sowing panic among many members of the European Union. The issue has allowed de Villepin to appear vert while simultaneously offering relief to beleaguered European manufacturers:
Il n’est pas normal que l’Europe fasse des efforts considérables et pas les autres grands ensembles. La Chine est en passé de rattraper l’Europe en matière de haute technologie, elle doit aussi faire des efforts en matière écologique. (It’s not right that Europe make considerable efforts and not other major players. As China is quickly catching up to Europe in high technology, it must also make an effort to do so on environmental issues.)With the real contenders for the French presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy and Ségolène Royal, falling all over themselves to praise the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, the latest sensation from across La Manche, de Villepin is also trying to establish his environmental credentials. Famous French environmentalist, Nicolas Hulot, has challenged all candidates for president to agree to his Pacte écologique to combat global climate change and other environmental challenges. So influential is Monsieur Hulot that presidential candidate, Laurent Fabius, has promised to make him his deputy, if elected.
Nevertheless, even with Monsieur Hulot leading the charge, solving the global climate change problem will be no seaside holiday.