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Pelosi Non-Committal On Climate As Germany Increasingly Frustrated By US Policy

US House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Guy Jackson
Berlin (AFP) May 28, 2007
US House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi refused here Monday to be drawn on whether the United States would back Germany's strong position on climate change at next week's G8 summit. Pelosi held talks with German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel on the first stop of a European tour she is making accompanied by a delegation of high-ranking Democrat and Republican politicians.

The Democrat leader who is an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush said a fact-finding visit to Greenland on the way to Europe had underlined the dangers posed to the world by rising temperatures.

"This trip for us began in Greenland where we saw first-hand evidence that climate change is a reality. There is just no denying it," Pelosi said at a press conference.

"I hope that we can all assume our responsibilities with great respect and that our administration will be open to listening to why it is important to go forward, perhaps in a different way than we have proceeded in the past."

Since Democrats took over Congress in January, both the House and Senate have proposed to push the nation more aggressively to reduce carbon emissions.

Leaked documents have shown that Washington has raised strong objections to a proposed global warming declaration prepared by the German hosts for the June 6-8 summit of the leaders of the Group of Eight most industrialised nations in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm.

Pelosi declined however to say whether Washington would sign up to the German proposal of limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to two degrees Celsius and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

"First we have to have a fundamental agreement as to what the challenges and possibilities are for reaching such a goal," she said.

"The science is clear, the challenge is undeniable, we have to work together though to reach a solution.

"All of us are committed to finding the best possible science and workable solutions to the challenges we face."

Pelosi said she would thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her "leadership" on the climate change issue when they meet on Tuesday.

Gabriel said Germany had been frustrated by the difficulties of reaching agreement on climate change with the United States, but said he detected a new attitude towards the issue in Washington.

"We regret that it has been hard to reach agreement with the US administration, but now we are delighted that there is a wide-ranging public debate about the issue in America.

"I believe Germany's policy on climate change is the right one. We want to take concrete steps forward."

Gabriel said developing nations like China and India could only be persuaded to commit to climate change restrictions if the most industrial nations such as Germany and the United States led the way.

"We must take joint responsibility," the minister said.

The United States refused to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol which limits the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.

In another sign of the obstacles facing Germany, India, which has been invited to participate at Heiligendamm, said Monday it would reject proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions because stricter restrictions would slow its booming economy.

After talks with Merkel on Tuesday, Pelosi will go on to Britain and Belgium.

earlier related report
Germany pushes for US support on G8 climate pact
Hamburg (AFP) May 28 - German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier Monday said Berlin will battle with Washington "to the last minute" to win US backing for a strong stand on climate change at the G8 summit.

"I trust that we will fight to the last minute. We need binding benchmarks and targets and we have to see whether we can make more headway," Steinmeier said.

With a week to go before the June 6-8 summit in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm, the United States and its partners in the Group of Eight leading industrial nations appear to be heading for a major clash on climate change.

According to leaked documents, Washington has rejected parts of a draft declaration on curbing global warming which Germany, as current G8 president, wants leaders to adopt at the meeting.

The US administration rejects the idea of setting mandatory targets on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as language calling for G8 nations to raise overall energy efficiencies by 20 percent by 2020.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's proposed text on the environment calls for limiting the worldwide temperature rise this century to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

It also stresses the need to cut global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Hinting at a row with Washington, Merkel said last week she was pessimistic that the G8 summit would result in a commitment to cut greenhouse emissions.

Steinmeier said some progress has been made in forging an understanding between Europe and the United States but urged Washington to come on board on energy efficiency targets before the G8 gathering.

"We trust that the US will be prepared to work together with us in the field of energy technology. We need to do this," he said.

He was speaking after a meeting between the so-called EU troika -- grouping the German and Portuguese foreign ministers and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana -- and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

Merkel is seeking to tie both China and India into a new pact on fighting carbon emissions after 2012 when the Kyoto Protocol runs out.

Together the two vast developing nations are set to surpass the United States' output of greenhouse gases in 2015 and the chancellor has warned that efforts to fight global warming were doomed without them.

Unlike the United States, China signed up to Kyoto but its status as a developing nation exempts it from binding emissions targets.

Yang refused to be drawn on whether Beijing would agree to be tied to emission limits in the post-Kyoto era, saying China needs to strike a balance between fighting pollution and fighting poverty.

"Our position is that we are a developing nation and climate change is not the doing of developing countries, though every country has to do what it can to help the environment," he said.

"China's greenhouse emission per capita is lower than in the developed world and we still have a substantial number of people living below the poverty line, so we have to strike a balance between development and protecting the environment."

Earlier Monday, Merkel's efforts to rally the developing world on climate change received a serious blow when India, which has been invited to the Heiligendamm summit, said it would reject proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The Indian environment ministry said restrictions would slow the country's boooming economy and set back efforts to fight poverty.

The EU-China meeting took place on the sidelines on an ASEM meeting of EU and Asian nations in Hamburg which concludes on Tuesday.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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India Rejects Greenhouse Gas Limits
New Delhi (AFP) May 28, 2007
India said Monday it would reject proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions at a summit meeting of the world's leading economies next month because stricter limits would slow its booming economy. "Legally mandated measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are likely to have significant adverse impacts on GDP growth of developing countries, including India," environment ministry secretary Pradipto Ghosh said.

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