U.S. bids to stop G8 push for climate deal

LONDON (Reuters) - The United States is battling to stop next month’s Group of Eight summit in Germany from pushing for urgent talks on a new deal to fight global warming after the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012.

Harlan Watson, Senior Climate Negotiator and Special Representative at the U.S. Department of State, speaks at a press conference at The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Montreal, November 29, 2005. The United States is battling to stop next month's Group of Eight summit in Germany from pushing for urgent talks on a new deal to fight global warming after the Kyoto Protocol lapses in 2012. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

In a draft of the final communique for the June 6-8 summit seen by Reuters, Washington wants references taken out to the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for a U.N. conference in Bali in December to open talks on a new global deal.

According to the draft, the United States supports the deletion of the following paragraphs: “We firmly agree that resolute and concerted international action is urgently needed in order to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and sustain our common basis of living.”

“To this end we will, in the face of the U.N. Climate Change Conference at the end of this year, send a clear message on the further development of the international regime to combat climate change.”

Environment ministers are due to meet on the Indonesian island of Bali on December 3-14. Britain and Germany are pushing for an agreement to kick-start talks on a successor treaty to Kyoto, extending and expanding its scope and membership.

Instead, the United States wants the final G8 statement to say: “Addressing climate change is a long-term issue that will require global participation and a diversity of approaches to take into account differing circumstances.”

The deletions are part of a concerted effort by the United States, which rejected Kyoto in 2001 and has ever since tried to undermine it, to water down the tone and content of the G8 summit declaration.

Most references in the draft, dated April, 2007, to targets and timetables to cut climate warming carbon emissions have met with objections from Washington.

It objects to efforts by G8 president Germany to get rich nations to agree to cut energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 and raise energy efficiency in transport and power generation by the same amount over the same period.

It also objects to a call for actions to limit the rise in global temperatures to two degree Celsius this century and to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Top scientists predict that average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport, bringing floods, famines, storms and putting millions of lives at risk.

However, they also note that because of the 30-year time lag between taking action to curb emissions and those actions having any discernable effect, the lower end of the increase is inevitable even if tough curbs are introduced immediately.

Washington rejected Kyoto as economic suicide because it was not binding on boom economies China and India whose emissions are mushrooming.

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

China, India, South Africa, Mexico and Brazil will be at the summit at the German seaside resort of Heiligendamm.

Negotiations to expand and extend Kyoto beyond 2012 are barely moving and diplomats are hoping that the G8 summit will agree on a declaration strong enough to revitalize the talks.

They say success at Heiligendamm would raise hopes the Bali meeting could agree outline principles for new post-2012 talks.

Failure in Germany could delay the process even further and risk leaving a post-2012 vacuum given the time it is likely to take to negotiate and ratify any Kyoto replacement.