Just as the world seemed poised to combat global warming more aggressively, the economic slump and plunging prices of coal and oil are upending plans to wean businesses and consumers from fossil fuel.
From Italy to China, the threat to jobs, profits and government tax revenues posed by the financial crisis has cast doubt on commitments to cap emissions or phase out polluting factories.
President-elect Barack Obama and the European Union have vowed to stick to commitments to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and invest in new green technologies, arguing that government action could stimulate the economy and create new jobs in producing sustainable energy.
But as the United Nations prepares to gather the world's environment ministers in Poznan, Poland, next week to try to agree on a new treaty to reduce emissions, both the political will and the economic underpinnings for a much more assertive strategy appear shakier than they did even a few weeks ago.
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