Green Backlash Feared from World Slowdown

BRUSSELS, Belgium, October 16, 2001 (ENS) - European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom has voiced fears that economic gloom in the wake of last month's terrorist attacks on the United States could crowd environmental issues off the global agenda.

Wallstrom

European Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom of Sweden (Photo courtesy EU Swedish Presidency)
"There is a serious risk that we will experience a backlash where these economic problems will overshadow long term questions of environment and sustainable development," Wallström told "Dagens Nyheter" newspaper in her native Sweden. Such a reaction must be resisted, she said.

The minister said her work on an eagerly awaited package of measures for complying with the Kyoto Protocol, set for release tomorrow, had helped concentrate her mind on the economic repercussions of September 11, particularly as her area of responsibility includes civil preparedness.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 38 industrialized nations have agreed to cut their emissions of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming.

"To date, this has mostly concerned how we should protect ourselves from ... natural disasters and the like," Wallström said. "Now we have to look at how we protect ourselves from catastrophes deliberately inflicted by people."

Her proposals on civil preparedness are expected before the end of the year.

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