French president launches environmental initiatives
French President Nicolas Sarkozy today described a smattering of green initiatives for the country, prescribing some and promising to study others. Capping a two-day conference on ways France could green itself, Sarkozy outlined the policy ideas in a speech, with climate campaigner Al Gore looking on. Afterward, Gore offered the praise he was likely invited for, saying of the proposals, “This is the beginning of an historic process.” Sarkozy said France would invest in greening its buildings, suspend the commercial planting of genetically modified crops, discourage use of inefficient cars, and will also halt construction of new roads and airports. Sarkozy promised a tax on freight-carrying trucks and mentioned plans for cross-country freight trains to replace them. He also floated an idea from former president Jacques Chirac that’s sure to be popular with the United States. “We have to study the possibility of taxing products from countries that do not respect the Kyoto protocols,” he said. Sarkozy touted the policies as “an ecological New Deal.” Coincidentally, that’s also what his critics in the U.S. said.