Bush aide rejects EU proposal on emissions cut

Published May 30, 2007

BERLIN - The United States rejects the European Union's all-encompassing target on reduction of carbon emissions, President Bush's environmental adviser said Tuesday.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said the United States is not against setting goals but prefers to focus them on specific sectors, such as cleaner coal and reducing dependence on gasoline. "The U.S. has different sets of targets, " he said.

Germany, which holds the European Union and Group of Eight presidencies, is proposing a so-called two-degree target, whereby global temperatures would be allowed to increase no more than 2 degrees Celsius - the equivalent of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit - before being brought back down. Practically, experts have said that means a global reduction in emissions of 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Connaughton, on a one-week bipartisan trip to Europe with members of the House of Representatives, said the U.S. favors "setting targets in the context of national circumstances."

In Hamburg, Asian countries, including rising global powerhouses China and India, reluctantly agreed Tuesday to back European calls for a new climate change treaty by 2009 to limit greenhouse gases after the Kyoto Protocol expires.

The deal was a step forward for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's push for a climate deal at next week's G-8 summit, which she will host. But differences remained at the end of the meeting of foreign ministers from the EU and Asia over whether developing nations would themselves agree to cut emissions.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, speaking on behalf of all 16 Asian nations at the Hamburg talks, said the EU should not expect developing countries to share the same burden of binding cuts similar to those taken by richer nations, a move he said would be unfair and harm efforts to lift people out of poverty.

Despite the disagreements, Connaughton said the G-8 meeting, which brings together the leaders of the United States, Germany, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Japan, could still result in a productive conclusion.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who opposes Bush on climate policy, urged international cooperation in tackling climate change.

Pelosi, on a separate trip to Berlin, hailed Merkel's leadership in fighting climate change and agreed that "these solutions must be multilateral."

"We are trying to preserve the planet, which many in our country, including I, believe is God's creation, and we have a responsibility to preserve it, " Pelosi said, speaking alongside Merkel after a meeting at the chancellery.

The United States refused to ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol limiting emissions because developing countries were not included. Rising economic giants, China and India, are exempt, and the treaty says nothing about post-2012 cuts.

Bush has argued that Kyoto would harm the U.S. economy and unfairly excludes developing countries such as China and India from obligations.