The US is ready to accept “binding international obligations” on reducing greenhouse gas emissions if other nations do the same, according to officials.

The US hopes the world’s major economies will conclude a “leaders’ declaration” before the July G8 summit. But the Bush administration is clearly looking for some kind of agreement from major developing countries such as China, India and Brazil.

“The US is prepared to enter into binding international obligations to reduce greenhouse gases as part of a global agreement in which all major economies similarly undertake binding international obligations,” said Mr Price, the president’s deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.

“An effective framework requires the participation of all major economies, developed and developing alike,” said Mr Price. “Europe and the US could turn out the lights today, and come 2030 or 2050 we would not have addressed the problem of climate change.”

Some countries might commit to firm emissions targets while others promised energy efficiency gains, he suggested. Commitments could cover a country’s entire economy, or just certain sectors.

Obligations, of course, is not the same as commitments.  And there is no indication of how much, or whether, the US might be prepared to cut emissions.