- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2007

LONDON — The United States is preparing to reject new targets on climate change at a Group of Eight summit next month, dashing German and British hopes for a new global pact on carbon emissions, according to a document released by environmentalists.

The White House said yesterday that discussions are still under way about what G-8 leaders will announce. “Our challenge and opportunity is in developing an approach that is appropriate and conducive to all these major emitting countries,” White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who holds the rotating presidency of both the G-8 bloc of industrialized nations and the European Union, wants the June meeting to agree to targets for cuts in greenhouse gas output and a timetable for a major agreement on emissions reduction to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

But unattributed comments written on a draft summit statement, which the environmental group Greenpeace said were written by U.S. officials and handed to it by an undisclosed third party, suggest the White House has major reservations.

“The U.S. still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement,” the notes on the document read. “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 27 EU members have agreed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 — building on Kyoto, which runs through 2012 — and by 30 percent if a broader international agreement can be reached.

Though Mrs. Merkel and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair — who made climate change a key priority for his final weeks in office — have pressed President Bush to back a new agreement, the document claimed the White House is “fundamentally opposed” to many of the European objectives.

The United States, the world’s biggest polluter, did not ratify the Kyoto agreement through which developed countries agreed to cut emissions by 5 percent below their 1990 level by 2012.

Mrs. Merkel is seeking to win agreements for a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and bold commitments to energy efficiency strategies at the summit in Heiligendamm, on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast, June 6-8.

The draft statement also included a commitment to curb the rise in average temperatures this century to 3.6 degrees, said Greenpeace — which has published two leaked versions of the document. Without significant efforts, the rise is estimated to reach as much as 11 degrees, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Following talks in Washington with Mr. Bush on May 17, Mr. Blair said he thought “it is possible that we will see action — and at least the beginnings of that action at the G-8.”

Mrs. Merkel on Thursday acknowledged negotiations could be problematic. “On the international level, the array of interests is more contradictory,” she said. “I don’t yet know, if there will be a success in Heiligendamm.”

Germany’s minister for the environment, Sigmar Gabriel, warned in remarks released yesterday that the U.S. stance could create problems for successful talks at the G-8 summit.

“Although many in the USA would like to see a different policy toward global warming, the administration in Washington has not embraced this movement. For that reason, success in Heiligendamm will be very difficult,” Mr. Gabriel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine’s Sunday edition.

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