Helping to save the earth proves tough for Europe

“For Europe, climate policy has always been about more than simply saving the earth from global warming. It has also been a measure of the bloc’s influence on the world stage and its ability to exercise its “soft” power.”

The Financial Times reports:

…European leaders basked in glory in late 2008 when they agreed to reduce emissions 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020. José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, repeatedly trumpeted Europe’s leadership in the fight against global warming, urging other nations to follow.

That pride turned to humiliation months later at the Copenhagen climate summit, when the US and China cut their own deal without even inviting the Europeans into the room.

As a political priority, climate policy has since been pushed down the agenda by a historic financial crisis that has threatened Europe’s most cherished project: the single currency. Aides to Mr Barroso acknowledge that it is difficult to talk about emissions reduction targets for the middle of the century when more than 50 per cent of youths in Greece and Spain lack jobs today…