A senior European official has described America’s latest offer on climate change as far too little, far too late.

The US climate chief James Connaughton has said that President Bush is ready to sign up to an international long-term goal of huge emissions cuts by 2050. “America’s helping lead the way among the major economies on the way forward after the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012,” he said. “Included in that is a commitment from the US to join in an international-binding agreement as long as the other major economies do too.”

But European climate experts are angry that the White House still refuses to set a date for halting its growth in emissions. One government official has told the BBC: “This is nowhere near enough. The rest of the world only cares about tangible US emissions reductions. Until they come up with firm figures for reductions, the rest is meaningless.”

Another said: “Frankly, we have had global climate policy held up by the White House for years. President Bush won’t be in office to sign off the next climate agreement so we really no longer really care what he thinks.”

About time really.