June 2, 2008 / 11:10 AM / in 10 years

U.S. seeks to deflect emissions cuts from G8

(Adds reaction from WWF, paragraph 12; edits)

By Jeremy Lovell

LONDON, June 2 (Reuters) - Washington is blocking efforts to get a Group of Eight summit to agree targets for cutting carbon emissions, insisting that responsibility be shared by big emerging economies, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

A draft summit declaration, dated May 5, shows that Washington wants the main forum for emissions cuts to be the Major Emitters or Major Economies grouping, set up by the United States last year and including Brazil, China and India and other industrial powers alongside the G8.

"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 formalise a goal agreed a year ago that global carbon emissions should be reduced by 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Pressure is building to set mid-term goals for 2020 to 2030 as well, to reinforce the long-term target. The U.S. G8 draft does not include either a mid-term or a 2050 goal.

The United States has said it will accept binding emissions curbs, but only on condition that major developing emitters also agree -- something they have so far refused to do.

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 will take place in Japan on the sidelines of the G8 summit.

It brings the G8 -- the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the European Union -- together with the United Nations and other countries with even more divergent agendas: Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and South Africa.


The U.S. draft declaration for the Major Economies Meeting does mention long-term cuts, but only in vague terms. This could give Washington scope to argue that the issue of cuts had been addressed in that forum, 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, it is hoped, will agree a successor to the Kyoto Protocol on cutting carbon emissions, which expires at the end of 2012.

"This is not going in the right direction at all," said Kim Carstensen, head of the global climate initiative at the environment group WWF. "The United States is trying to take control of the whole process. Japan must step in to stop it."

The United States, 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 Meeting, 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 civilian 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 nuclear expansion at home and hopes to sell its technology abroad. It is also investing heavily in biofuel research, 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.

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