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French Leaders Hold Summit to Launch 'Green Revolution' in France

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Lisa Bryant

France is hosting a high-level environmental summit Wednesday and Thursday, aimed to turn the country from laggard to leader in the fight against global warming and pollution. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports the summit will end with proposed government measures to launch a "green revolution" in France.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy promised to make the environment a top issue for his center-right government. The Paris summit is his opportunity to do so. He has already created a super-ministry of environment and development. He has also urged developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2050.

Thursday, Mr. Sarkozy will deliver a key speech at the meeting. The government is expected to unveil a series of proposals to launch a "green revolution" in France, following months of meetings with environmental activists, farmers and businesses.

It is unclear just what the measures will be, but observers say they will likely include efforts to make buildings energy efficient by 2020 and to introduce labels on products showing their carbon footprints - how much heat-trapping carbon dioxide has been generated to produce them.

Yannick Jadot, spokesman for the environmental non-governmental "Alliance for the Planet," says he hopes the summit will produce radical decisions for France, which has been considered an environmental laggard in Europe.

In an interview on Radio France International, Jadot said he hoped the French government will offer strong measures, including a moratorium on genetically modified products and a reduction in the use of pesticides. However, some environmental groups are less optimistic. And, Mr. Sarkozy's government is unlikely to budge on one highly controversial issue - nuclear energy, which supplies 80 percent of France's electricity.

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