French eco-groups get face time with new president

Nicolas Sarkozy is better known as a friend to big business than as a friend to the environment, but the newly elected French president is reaching out nonetheless. Yesterday, three days after taking office, he gathered representatives from nine green groups — along with the head of the newly created ministry of sustainable development, Alain Juppe — for a gab session on climate change, nuclear power, genetically modified crops, renewable energy, and biodiversity. Pledging to pull together a conference involving business, labor, and greens in September or October, Sarkozy said … well, lots of vague things, frankly. Like, “Environmental questions must not be seen as a threat but as a wonderful opportunity for France.” And “It’s time for action.” Still, activists take heart in the fact that he’s even initiating such conversations; despite “strong, incontestable differences,” said Greenpeace France Campaign Director Yannick Jadot, the meeting was “a great sign of openness.”