Potsdam, Germany: The US will inevitably fall in step with the rest of the world in the push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, several G8 environment ministers said on 16 March.
The ministers met to try to prepare the ground for a meeting in June of leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) powers, which will be hosted by Germany in the Baltic resort of Heiligendamm. Climate change will be a top item on the agenda at the summit.
“I think it’s a matter of when, not if the US becomes part of the global drive to reduce emissions,” British Environment Minister David Miliband said at a meeting of top environment officials from the G8 industrialised nations and leading developing countries.
“I think it’s very important that the US is part of that drive, obviously, because it’s not going to succeed without them,” Miliband told reporters.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is presiding over the meeting on behalf of Germany’s G8 presidency, echoed Miliband’s comments. But he said no breakthroughs could be expected at the two-day meeting in Potsdam.
Top environment officials from the G8 -- the US, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia -- and counterparts from China, India, South Africa, Brazil and Mexico aim to use the Potsdam gathering to bridge the wide gaps in views on climate change between the rich and developing states.
“The differences are still marked,” said Gabriel.
The US has been criticised for years for pulling out of the UN Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2001. Developing countries cite the US position as a ground for their refusal of emissions reduction targets.
But recently the US has sent signals that it may be re-evaluating its position on slashing carbon emissions.
The top US delegate, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Stephen L. Johnson, said reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions was a key item on the agenda of President George W. Bush.
“The president has made it very clear that he’s committed to helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the US,” Johnson told Reuters in an interview.
The Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 and the US position will be key in negotiating post-Kyoto emissions targets.