At an EU summit last week, member states were divided over the course environmental policies should now take.

Commission President José Manual Barroso and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas urged nations not to back down on tough targets, a stance backed by countries such as the UK.

But Italy and a group of Eastern European states spoke out against the effect policies could have on their economies.

EU leaders are attempting to reach a deal on CO2 reduction laws before the end of the year.

Countries outside the EU also gave their commitment to tackling climate change despite the global economic slowdown.

Australian Climate Change Minister Penny Wong said: “Australia is particularly vulnerable to climate change, and it is in our interest to help find an effective global solution.”

A report published by independent research firm Verdantix on Friday warned that the recession would hit the climate change business sector, but it would bounce back.

The report said that despite the downturn, the sector as a whole will grow in 2009 and soar in 2010, when new laws should be in place to give more certainty to businesses.

David Metcalfe, director of Verdantix, said: “The climate change sector is not directly affected [by the financial crisis] but will suffer from the economic ripple effects.”

He added: “Despite the financial turmoil and recession, the climate change sector will continue to grow in 2009, but at a lower rate.

“The sector will draw support from its pre-existing exponential growth rate, multiple compliance drivers, alignment with cost saving programmes and availability of equity finance for new ventures.”

Kate Martin

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