The USA is preparing to scupper a global deal on slashing greenhouse gas emissions at the G8 summit in Germany before concrete proposals have even had a chance to be argued through.
The statement from Washington that it will not support such a deal is the latest ploy from the Bush administration to stop concerted action on climate change because it is inconvenient to the oil industry and Republican backers, say environmentalists.
The news has infuriated the tens of thousands of protestors who have taken to the streets to put pressure on the world’s rich nations.
Last week the US government announced that it would engage with 12 of the world’s major greenhouse gas emitting nations.
The move was welcomed by British PM Tony Blair, and more cautiously by the Germans, but critics swiftly pointed out that it was an attempt to derail a more potent G8 agreement – and to pitch the argument into an informal forum with much less chance of reaching agreement.
A top US climate official said today that the G8 should not dictate members' policies, but President Bush said he still had a "strong desire" for a post-Kyoto plan according to the BBC. The arguments are likely to continue.
Major development and environmental NGOs, including church and inter-faith bodies, have been continuing to lobby hard to persuade the G8 industrialized leaders to take decisive action on climate change on poverty targets, rather than resorting to mere rhetoric.
The US government’s row with Moscow over American plans for a shield in two former Soviet satellites also looms over the summit.
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hosting the summit, has set what is seen as an ambitious personal goal of persuading the leading industrialised countries to commit to cutting emissions by 50% by 2050. She also wants them to increase fuel efficiency by 20% and limit the world's temperature rise to 2C.
Thousands of protestors against neoliberal globalization have taken to the streets of Gemany today. There have been some clashes with police and a significant number of arrests.