(May 25, 2007)

US rejects Germany's climate proposal

By Jeremy Lovell
From Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States has rejected Germany's bid to get the Group of Eight to agree to tough cuts in climate warming carbon emissions, according to a draft of the communique to be presented to next month's meeting.

The blunt language of the rejection sets the scene for a showdown at the summit to be held at the German resort of Heiligendamm from June 6-8.

"The U.S. still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement," it said in red ink comments at the start of a copy of the draft communique seen by Reuters on Friday.

G8 president Germany wants the meeting to agree targets and timetables for steep cuts in emissions and increases in energy efficiency in transport and power generation.

"The treatment of climate change runs counter to our overall position and crosses multiple 'red lines' in terms of what we simply cannot agree to," the U.S. comments continued.

"We have tried to 'tread lightly' but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, supported by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, wants agreement to curb the rise in average temperatures this century to two degrees Celsius, to cut global emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and to raise energy efficiency in power and transport by 20 percent by 2020.


The United States, which rejected in 2001 the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions as economic suicide because it was not binding on boom economies China and India, is adamantly against any binding targets or timetables.

Washington, despite the fact that several states are starting up Kyoto-style carbon trading schemes, also rejects carbon trading because of its implicit emission caps.

"The proposals within the sections titled "Fighting Climate Change" and "Carbon Markets" are fundamentally incompatible with the President's approach to climate change," said another red-inked paragraph in the draft.

Environment group Greenpeace said the U.S. stance gave the lie to confident statements by Blair that Washington's position was moderating as the summit approached.

"This shows more clearly than ever that despite his protestations to the contrary Tony Blair's efforts to persuade George Bush of the importance of tackling climate change have singularly failed," said Greenpeace director John Sauven.

"Bush's attempts to obstruct any meaningful agreement at the G8 summit in June are as criminal as they are expected; Merkel must now make Bush's isolation crystal clear in Heiligendamm."

Developing countries argue that as most of the pollution in the atmosphere came from the developed nations, they should bear the brunt of the bill for tackling its causes and effects.

Diplomats say that with less that two weeks to go to the summit, it is still impossible to tell if there will be a worthwhile climate change text.

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