European leaders last night announced they were leading the world towards a low-carbon future after sealing an ambitious climate change pact by making generous concessions to the big polluters in European heavy industry.
A two-day summit of 27 government leaders in Brussels ended a two-year effort to agree mandatory reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in Europe and came as a triumph for President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in the closing days of his six-month presidency of the EU.
Not noted for his understatement, the French leader declared: "This council will go down in the history of Europe."
The French navigated a route through conflicting claims from Poland, Hungary, Germany and Italy to finalise a deal that keeps the EU's main carbon dioxide reduction targets intact, while easing the costs of the package for European manufacturers and heavy industry.
The climate accord orders Europe to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by ...