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Turning attention to the environment

Green Week in Europe shines a spotlight on environmental issues.

BRUSSELS — “Our business model is to try and change the world,” Mike Lamond says confidently of The company aims to get free environmental programming in front of “as many people’s eyeballs as possible," hopefully spurring "positive action."’s parent company, Large Blue, launched the online channel a few years ago, with partners including the World Wildlife Federation and the United Nations, and sponsors such as Kyocera. Programming resembles hip, dynamic MTV productions — except it's focused on natural resources and how to preserve them.

Lamond says perhaps the venture will someday make a profit. It’s a cynical but realistic view, he noted, that the catastrophic state of the environment means there will be plenty of work in this sphere for decades to come.

Lamond was showcasing at Europe’s annual “Green Week,” devoted this year to the theme “act and adapt.” Hundreds of exhibitors and extraordinary speakers made this a very impressive event, but the real question is not whether the EU can pull off Green Week, but whether it can secure a green future.

EU Commissioner for the Environment Stavros Dimas says it must — and now. “This is without question the most important year we have faced in the war against climate change,” he said at the opening session of the four-day Green Week event in Brussels. “It is the future of our planet that is at stake and time is running out.”

But some EU governments say that in these tough economic times, money is also running out, making them reluctant to take actions that could be pricey for governments and uncomfortable for business. Swedish Environment Minister Andreas Carlgren, whose country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency on July 1, wrote in a recent op-ed that the “financial crisis has sent shockwaves around the world and it will largely set the political context in which the EU's environmental policy will evolve over the next few years.”

United Nations experts say industrialized countries need to cut their emissions by 25 to 40 percent to avert the worst effects of global warming. The EU has already agreed to cut its combined output of greenhouse gases by 20 percent of 1990 levels by the year 2020. The other parts of the “20/20/20” plan include getting 20 percent of fuel from renewable sources and a 20 percent improvement in energy efficiency.