Center Hosts Climate Talks

Global Warning
Meghan T. Purdy

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a member of the European parliament, reacts to a question at “What’s the Difference?! The European Approach to Climate Change” sponsored by the Center for Euorpean Studies.

A conservative member of the European parliament said yesterday that Europe and the United States must work together in order to fend off the effects of global climate change.

Karl-Heinz Florenz, a German member of the European Parliament and former chair of its Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety, said that the United States should become more involved internationally by devoting more funds to environmental causes, as well as implementing better policies.

“I think there’s a lot of reasons to spend money in America, to save money, and not send it to Iraq,” he said, speaking to an audience of about 30 people gathered at the Center for European Studies yesterday afternoon.

On a practical level, Florenz stressed utilizing the trade system and a market-based instrument to address global warming.

“We can do it in a market-based way, we can do it with the industry, and it’s not only a question of money, it’s a question of developing modern legislation papers for aircraft, for cars, for heating systems,” he said.

Florenz represents the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, a right-wing Christian party.

While concerns about global warming have become a campaign issue of the political left in the United States, in Europe, concerns about climate change also preoccupy the right, said the director of the Center for European Studies, David G. Blackbourn, who moderated the event.

“In Europe, not only is this issue taken very seriously, but it’s taken seriously across the left-right divide,” he said. “This is another important reminder that there is no simple identification between concern for the environment and being on the left.”

After his talk, Florenz fielded questions from a young supporter of activist Lyndon LaRouche, an instructor from Boston University, and graduate students from MIT and the Kennedy School of Government.

Questions ranged from the possibility that the climate crisis alarm is a hoax, to a query about the environmental impact of the higher speed limits in Germany, to the issue of how to make environmental protection a nonpartisan issue.

Blackbourn said that he was delighted to co-sponsor an event with the Center for the Environment.

“I will be the director for a few more years, and I am very determined to have more events focused on the environment. I hope this is the first of many,” he said.

—Staff writer Elsa S. Kim can be reached at elsakim@fas.harvard.edu.