Merkel in last-minute bid to clinch G8 climate-change deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with US President George W. Bush ahead of the G8 summit in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to commit to key targets and timetables for fighting global warming.

Senior officials from the Group of Eight countries (United States, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and Russia) will meet in Berlin on 4 June 2007 to try to resolve last-minute differences on how to tackle climate change. 

Germany — which will host the G8 Summit on 6-8 June in Heiligendamm — hopes to push through an ambitious agreement on curbing greenhouse-gas emissions after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012, but the Bush administration has signalled its “fundamental opposition” to targets and timetables that the current holder of the EU Presidency wants included in the final summit communiqué. 

The main objections relate to pledges, contained in Germany’s draft statement, to raise overall energy efficiencies by 20% by 2020 and to cut emissions to 50% below 1990 levels by the year 2050. 

“The United States still has serious, fundamental concerns about this draft statement…We never agreed to any of the climate language present in the document …We have tried to ‘tread lightly’ but there is only so far we can go given our fundamental opposition to the German position,” stated a US document on the draft communiqué. 

According to press reports, Merkel will meet with the US president just before the start of the 6 June summit, in an attempt to convince him to revise this position. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced that his government would “fight to the last minute” to win US backing for binding targets.

In 2001, President Bush withdrew the United States from the Kyoto Treaty, saying that it would be detrimental to the American economy, and, although he has lately taken a turn for the ‘greener’, emphasising the need to replace fossil fuels and curb climate change, he is unlikely to agree to any binding steps to fight global warming, despite pressure from both G8 partners and from the now Democratic-majority US Congress. 

US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, head of the Democrats, urged Bush, on 28 May, to forge a compromise with other G8 countries on fight climate change: “We hope that we can all assume our responsibilities…and that our administration will be open to listening to why it is important to go forward, perhaps in a different way than we proceeded in the past,” she said. 

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