This BBC story on the French love affair with nuclear power makes the somewhat surprising point that even with 78% of its power generated by its 58 nuclear plants, France is not on pace to meet its 2008 greenhouse gas emissions reductions as mandated by the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, only the U.K. and Sweden among E.U. signatories are on target to meet the 8% reduction in emmissions by 2010.

This unsettling situation makes at least two things quite clear:

  1. Transport (not fueled by nuclear power) must be responsible for a very large portion of greenhouse emissions;
  2. the Europeans are in danger of their words speaking louder than their actions when it comes to meeting the reductions mandated by Kyoto.

It is no excuse for American inaction, but failure to meet these commitments may have the effect of undermining the case for the multilateral environmental mechanism while reinforcing the image of Europeans as aspirational rather than serious about meeting targets and timetables.    

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