As world awaits climate report, French capital sends a message

All eyes are on Paris this week as the world waits en retenant son souffle for tomorrow’s release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. (That means “with bated breath.” We love the Google!) So Paris, ever obliging, is doing a banana dance to keep the masses entertained. Tonight, the Eiffel Tower and other landmarks in the City of Lights will go dark for five minutes to draw attention to energy consumption. The symbolic gesture “is not an exercise without risk,” says a worried grid operator, “but we will do our utmost to prevent a blackout.” President Jacques Chirac is also going dark, grimly warning the U.S. to join Kyoto or face a European carbon tax on imports. While no such tax exists yet, Chirac says it’s “inevitable.” His term ends this spring, but his potential successors are also leaning green. Says Daniel Richard of the French chapter of WWF, “The French are waking up to the reality of environmental destruction.”