President Bush has killed off any hope for a G8 climate plan by throwing international efforts to control climate change into complete confusion with a proposal to create a “new global framework” to curb greenhouse gas emissions as an alternative to a planned UN process.
The proposal comes less than a week before the G8 summit in Germany and seems a cynical move to undermine European efforts to strike a deal.
Under the Bush proposal, the 15 countries responsible for the overwhelming bulk of greenhouse gas emissions would meet in the autumn with the aim of striking a deal by the end of next year. But it was unclear how this new grouping would be able to agree on a scheme so rapidly, when there are such pronounced differences within the smaller G8, largely between the US and its partners.
British and German officials have stressed in recent weeks that a new climate agreement should be based on binding caps on carbon pollution for developed nations, similar to those set up under the UN’s Kyoto protocol.
President Bush has consistently opposed such restrictions, which he argues would damage the US economy. He prefers voluntary targets and his administration is keen to measure the carbon intensity of polluting activities – a measure of their efficiency – rather than tot up their overall emissions. He also wants to sideline the UN
Bernd Pfaffenbach, the chief German negotiator or “sherpa” on climate change argued that excluding the UN or weakening its role was a “red line” that Ms Merkel “will never cross. The leading role of the UN on climate change is non-negotiable.”