LONDON The United States is blocking efforts to get next month's Group of Eight summit to agree targets for cutting carbon emissions over the next 10 to 20 years, according to a draft of the declaration seen by Reuters.
The draft, dated May 5, shows that Washington wants to make the Major Emitters grouping set up by U.S. President George W. Bush last year the main forum for climate action, taking the initiative away from the smaller group of rich nations.
"In the U.S. view, the appropriate place for addressing long-term and mid-term goals is the Major Economies Leaders Declaration," said a U.S. comment in the draft.
"We would be prepared to address mid-term goals in the G8 only if the Major Economies Leaders Statement does not do so and only in a way that points to the need for commitments from major emerging economies," it said.
The July 7-9 G8 summit at Hokkaido in Japan is due to adopt the informal goal agreed a year ago that global carbon emissions should be reduced by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. However the U.S. climate draft does not include a 2050 goal.
There is also rising pressure to set mid-term goals for 2020 to 2030 as well, as a way of reinforcing the long-term target. The U.S. G8 draft does not include a mid-term goal.
EU comments on the G8 draft declaration stress G8 leadership and state that the developed countries must commit to carbon emission cuts of between 25 and 40 percent by 2020.
The Major Economies Meeting -- also known as the Major Emitters Meeting -- will take place in Japan on the sidelines of the G8 summit.
It groups the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, South Africa and Britain, as well as the European Union and the United Nations.
The vague language on long-term cuts in the U.S. draft declaration for the Major Emitters Meeting could give Washington scope to argue that the mid-term issue had been addressed in that forum, therefore removing the need for G8 intervention.
The draft also seeks to defer any agreement on specific mid-term goals to a U.N. meeting in December 2009 which is hoped will agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions which expires at the end of 2012.
The U.S. which only recently acknowledged that global warming was at least in part due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport, also rejected proposals by the G8 for an industry-by-industry approach to carbon curbs.
It said the Major Emitters, not the G8, was the appropriate forum for any such declaration.
"We are prepared to address it in the G8 only if the MEM Leaders Declaration fails to capture the sectoral approach idea," it said.
Washington endorsed expansion of civil nuclear power as a low carbon technology and says biofuels are not the main cause of the recent surge in world food prices.
The United States is promoting major nuclear expansion at home and is hoping to sell the technology abroad. It is also investing heavily in biofuel research and development and production.
"The expansion of nuclear energy would help to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and would provide the greater global energy security by diversifying supply options," said the U.S. comment in the draft G8 text.
It called for agreement in the Doha round of world trade talks on eliminating barriers to trade in green goods and services, adding that a voluntary deal within the G8 would not be the right approach.
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; editing by David Clarke and Charles Dick)