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French President Nicolas Sarkozy – currently President of the EU – failed to win agreement from Central and Eastern European nations for support for EU-wide action on climate change although certain concessions have brought the possibility of agreement closer.

"The EU," reports AFP, "has set a triple "20" objective for 2020: slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990, increasing renewable energy’s share of the market to 20%, and improving energy efficiency by 20%."

Most opposition to the pact is coming from Poland and Italy.  Poland is 94% dependent on coal-fired energy and is now confident of extended exemptions from the EU pact.

Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi is the other main barrier to action.  His environment minister issued the following statement earlier this week:

"We think the package is a mistake. As it stands, it penalises our industry, increases costs for citizens, threatens jobs and makes Italy poorer." 

Disagreement within Europe coincides with growing restlessness in other parts of the world.  "There is no chance whatsoever that any developing country will agree to that proposal," Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, South Africa’s environment minister, said in an interview in London. "None of the developing countries — all of us have said that up front — are willing to commit to specific targets."  The Sydney Morning Herald also reports that Kevin Rudd’s government, once a leading enthusiast for action on climate change, is "back-pedalling".

The frontbenches of Britain’s political parties support the EU climate pact but a number of Conservative Party backbenchers are increasingly vociferous in raising their concerns.

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