The next victim of Europe’s economic crisis is becoming the global effort to restrain fossil fuel emissions and curb pollution now at record levels.
The European Union, which led the fight by establishing the biggest market for carbon emissions, is letting the matter slip as a priority. EU leaders didn’t discuss climate strategy at their four summits this year, while France, Germany, Spain and Britain are focused on paring the region’s 10.5 percent unemployment rate and 10.8 trillion euros ($13.9 trillion) in debt. The matter didn’t emerge during U.S. presidential debates.
“What scares me is that climate policy is sliding off the international policy agenda,” International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol said in an interview in advance of the United Nation’s annual round of talks on the issue that start in three days in Doha, the capital of the Qatar.
The inaction contrasts with widening concern among scientists that the time to react is passing. Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to its lowest on record this summer as drought devastated corn crops in the U.S. Midwest and superstorm Sandy pummeled the East coast after becoming the largest ever tropical system in the Atlantic. The World Meteorological Organization says greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere touched a high in 2011, and the UN says that will make the weather more volatile.