Representatives of some 180 countries will gather in the Hague, Netherlands, next Monday to begin two weeks of talks to nail down the details of how to implement the Kyoto climate change treaty. French Environment Minister Dominique Voynet said this week that the European Union is united behind the idea that countries should meet most of their binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through domestic action, rather than through trading emissions credits with other countries. She also said the EU would push to limit the use of carbon sinks, such as forests, to meet reduction goals. Both positions run counter to those held by the U.S. The Hague talks will occur against the backdrop of a rash of severe storms and floods in Europe that some officials are attributing to climate change. On Monday, Prince Charles said that widespread floods in Britain were the result of humans’ “arrogant disregard” of nature, and Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the floods show the importance of taking action to combat climate change.

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