Germany skeptical of Bush plan on climate change

1st June 2007, Comments 0 comments

1 June 2007, Berlin (dpa) - Germany voiced scepticism Friday about plans outlined by US President George W Bush to cut greenhouse gas emissions by way of talks among a small group of nations. Germany, set to host next week's G8 summit of rich countries, said it was not enough for major industrialized and emerging nations to settle the terms among themselves. German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the negotiations had to be under the aegis of the United Nations. "For us that is non-negotiable," he

1 June 2007

Berlin (dpa) - Germany voiced scepticism Friday about plans outlined by US President George W Bush to cut greenhouse gas emissions by way of talks among a small group of nations.

Germany, set to host next week's G8 summit of rich countries, said it was not enough for major industrialized and emerging nations to settle the terms among themselves.

German government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm said the negotiations had to be under the aegis of the United Nations.

"For us that is non-negotiable," he said in Berlin. While it would help to have all the main countries involved, the issue was one for the international community as a whole.

"To operate exclusively in a committee of a smaller number of states would not achieve the objective," he said, although Berlin saw sense in initiative by the nations.

"Anything which achieves movement is important and good," he said.

Government sources told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that Chancellor Angela Merkel intended to phone Bush later on Friday in an effort to win more concessions on climate protection ahead of the G8 meeting.

The sources said the chancellor was intent on getting the summit in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm to set firm international targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told Friday's Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) that he did not expect agreement on concrete climate protection measures at the G8 summit.

Merkel, whose country currently currently holds the presidency of the Group of Eight and who has put the climate issue at the top of the summit agenda, earlier gave the initiative a cautious welcome.

Bush told a German newspaper he was confident that Merkel would back his aims for 10-15 major greenhouse gas producers to join forces to cut their emissions, put forward in Washington Thursday.

In remarks to the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, the US president rejected speculation that disagreement between officials working on a climate change text for approval at the G8 meeting had soured US-German relations.

In his interview with the FTD, Barroso said the US had "special responsibility as a large emitter of pollutants."

"It is clear that we need a more ambitious position from the US," he added.

Speaking Thursday, Merkel said Bush's speech represented "movement" on the previous uncompromising US position on setting greenhouse gas emission targets and an "important step on the road to Heiligendamm."

Government spokesman Wilhelm had acknowledged earlier there would be "difficult and very intensive discussions" at Heiligendamm and did not rule out the possibility of failure to agree a text on climate change.

He stressed that Germany's position was that the process should be conducted through the United Nations.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed strong scepticism, warning that the Bush initiative should not be allowed to become a "Trojan Horse" at Heiligendamm and undermine efforts at international cooperation on climate protection.

Barroso, who will attend the G8 meeting, came out strongly in favour of binding emission targets.

"The US is relying strongly on market mechanisms in the battle against climate change, and rightly so," he said. "But market mechanisms only work when one has binding targets."

He expressed hope the US would see the need to bring the United Nations into the process, adding that the G8 summit should provide a launching pad for the UN climate protection meeting in Bali in December.

Barroso said Bush's initiative was being superceded by events within the US, where "public opinion on the issue is developing at breathtaking pace."

The top German official preparing the ground for Heiligendamm acknowledged that there was no common line on the issue.

Bernd Pfaffenbach said "exaggerated expectations" had been generated in the run-up to Heiligendamm and did not rule out failure to reach accord on climate protection.

Pfaffenbach said Bush's idea of drawing in industrialized countries and rapidly developing countries could "certainly make sense," but he stressed that the German approach was to work through the UN.

The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls for limited reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from the industrialized world, runs out in 2012.

The US has not ratified the treaty and demands that countries like China and India be brought into the process.

Under Merkel's leadership, the EU has set ambitious targets for cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 20 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

DPA

Subject: German news

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